Preschool: Bring own snack or create \"approved list\" for parents?

Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2003 - 10:17am
Elizasmom's picture
Joined: 09/07/2002 - 09:00

My 3-year-old daughter will be starting at a co-op preschool three days a week in the Fall. At this school, the participating parent brings the days snack for all the kids. Eliza is severly allergic to milk, melons, mango, kiwi, and possibly peanuts. Because she cannot have skin contact with milk products, melons, mango, or kiwi, the school has agreed that these things will not be permitted in the class. However, I always assumed that she would have her own special snack every day that I would bring. My concern is that the other parents cannot be expected to properly read a label for milk or to avoid cross-contamination if they bake. Other people just think of yogurt, cream, cheese and milk when they think of milk allergy, but I see milk protien in everything (bread, cereal, crackers, cookies, candy, etc.).

However, teacher has suggested that I make a list of specific pre-packaged foods that I know are safe so that Eliza can eat what the others do. What do you think about this? Will the other parents resent me for limiting their choices? Should we try it and see? If we do it, I think it should be all or nothing. In other words, either the parents must always follow the list, or I should always just bring her lunch. If we go back and fourth, she may get confused and grab a cheese cracker one day. I also think baked goods will have to be out of the question. There has to be an ingredients label if she's going to eat it. For birthdays, I could make an exception, and bring a cupcake just for her.

Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2003 - 11:00pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

This may work. It worked for us at the Kindergarten level (1/2 day). Make up the list, have the teachers check it over, and hand it out. There were never any problems from the parents with this (public school).
However, there will always be parents that will send something in that is not on the list or will use generics of what's on your list. My advice would be to have the parents send in a snack the first week of the month to last for a month. You come in and double check, marking the boxes/packages with a mark if it is safe or unsafe. This will be your "stamp" of approval. The unsafe ones can be sent home or traded with another class if possible.
Even with this in mind, you may want to pack a snack for your own daughter as we do from packages we've eaten from at home. We always do a "test" of every new snack package that is opened at home BEFORE he takes it to school. For parties, I check what is being served and send in the same things but safe versions. No homemade products are allowed in the classroom. EVERYTHING must have a label. People will forget and will show up at the door with homemade goodies. The teachers must have the balls to nicely say thanks, but no thanks you'll have to take them home.

Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2003 - 11:26pm
Kathryn's picture
Joined: 02/17/1999 - 09:00

We have always avoided allowing Troy to have foods selected by others and after attending a conference where an allergist had an extensive display of packages he had bought the week before at grocery stores in his community I will maintain our approach. The allergist had 2 or 3 packages of identical products [same maker, same mainstream brand, same flavour etc.] but one had milk ingredients and the other two did not. One had hydrolized vegetable protein but the other two did not. He had contacted the manufacturer who said though the end taste is the same, the ingredients may differ from factory to factory or even from week to week!. The display of products with different ingredients found on the same store shelf was confirmation to me that I read the label on every package everytime. We have never provided a safe foods list and our son only eats what we provide or have approved after reading the label.

Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2003 - 9:52am
BENSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/20/2000 - 09:00

Ben went to a preschool where parents took turns bringing snack each day. Every day when I took him to preschool, I would check the snack that the parent dropped off. Sometimes I had to wait a few minutes for them to show up. If the snack was ok, he could have it. If not, I had brought a backup snack that the teachers kept on hand to give him. He didn't get confused about what to eat, but he was 4 1/2. He wasn't diagnosed until he was over 4, so I don't know how 3-yr-olds are with allergies. He could eat the snack on most days, but I think it's harder with milk.
Good luck (from another Eliza's mom)

Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2003 - 12:27pm
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

We did the list last year, and I found it very stressful. Sometimes a parent brings in a special treat for the kids and mine was stuck with saltines or once, unapproved animal crackers were given to her(she was fine, but I do not trust the brand).
I think, this year, I will talk to the director about providing a stash of 10 snacks at a time, in little baggies, with dd's name. I will do a variety of pretzel, cracker and cookie things, so they can select what best matches the daily snack. I also always keep cupcakes in the freezer at school for birthdays. I found the well-intentioned teacher kept pressuring me to check into other options and try things other PA kids could have at the school. By having a firm rule, then there will be no confusion.
Good Luck! becca

Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2003 - 1:37pm
e-mom's picture
Joined: 04/23/2000 - 09:00

This is what I do.
Ds only eats the snacks that I send him at his preschool. About every 2 months, I get about 5 tupperware containers. I put his name on each of them as well as the exact name of the snack.
When he starts running out of that particular snack and refill it.
For the special occasions, I send cupcakes that are kept in the preschool's freezer.
I personally would not make a list of safe foods because as another poster noted not all parents will bring in the exact food you list and besides what if the food you list suddenly changes their ingredients and is now listing a "may contain".
I honestly just would not take the chance that other people who you do not know will check properly.
Becca, FYI, I wouldn't use baggies for her snacks as the snacks tend to get a little stale in a short period of time. Something like tupperware will make the snacks last a lot longer.

Posted on: Thu, 07/17/2003 - 11:57pm
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I just got our class list for the upcoming year. There is another food allergic(multiple allergies) child with PA in dd's class this coming year. I *know* his mom lets him have things I do not let dd have, including a particular animal cracker and candies(candy corn, gumdrops) I called on and was advised against using! I was actually advised to try this snack by our last teacher because this other child is allowed. I plan to bring up that point in changing my rules for this year.
Our school claims to be peanut free and here is where it gets sticky. I feel like last year's teacher was a bit indignant when I would find some of her choices unsafe for dd, yet others with PA allowed the food. I think it is best to provide your own, as these differences in comfort zones can get sticky. It gets tough at our school, since they use alot of food in the class. I have heard we have a great(new this year, but returning from the past) teacher, so I hope things are better this year. The other reputable preschools around have toddlers eating PB.
E-mom, thanks for the advice. I mean the zip type bags, but was not clear. I have lost some of those(since we bring them everywhere) for months at the bottom of the snack box at home and they stay remakably fresh! Found some cheerios in the beach bag one year(after wintering in there). I heaved them, but they were still cripsy! I was thinking a bunch of those in a single tupperware type box, everything labeled. We do the cupcake thing as well. I even had some Hoodsies and Philly Swirls in our school freezer last year.

Posted on: Fri, 07/18/2003 - 2:07am
e-mom's picture
Joined: 04/23/2000 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by becca:
[b]I *know* his mom lets him have things I do not let dd have, including a particular animal cracker and candies(candy corn, gumdrops) I called on and was advised against using! [/b]
This is EXACTLY why I bring ds's own food. Thanks becca!!

Posted on: Fri, 07/18/2003 - 11:05am
Joanne's picture
Joined: 02/22/1999 - 09:00

I have found it easiest for my family to have a simple rule: my PA son only ate the food that he brought from home. He's grown up knowing that he only eats food that we provide, and it's prevented potential exposures. After spending hundreds of hours reading labels and talking to food companies, I just don't feel comfortable trusting other adults who don't deal with life-threatening allergies 24/7 to be as careful or as knowledgeable as I am. There are far too many products where one version is safe and one version is not for me to be comfortable with someone else's judgement.

Posted on: Sun, 07/20/2003 - 1:20am
pgrubbs's picture
Joined: 10/27/2003 - 09:00

We are also new to this and had the same issues. DD (2y10 mo) attendsa parent co-op, too. After I got all the staff copies of the peanut allergy answer book the staff decided the school would be peanut free, but that DD would bring her own snack. Since by NC law kids in child care aren't required to wash hands after lunch, and since many of dd's classmates are vegan, teachers were afraid little friends would have peanut residue everwhere. However, this school is very relaxed about food and what a parent brings for snack may not be served on that day. While we don't think it is realistic to assume all parents are carefully reading labels to the letter or calling about "natural flavors", her risk is pretty low now. Parents are trying to be very careful. She only eats the snack I take, just in case. I got a cool lunchbox, labled it "Sophie's safe snacks", and she and I have picked out several of her favorite (safe) things and put in it: Small goldfish, crackers, applesauce, pineapple cups, etc. with spoons and a few ziplocs. It is working really well. I was VERY worried that the parent helpers would be clueless, so I got a bunch of tshirts and dyed them and drew a peanut with a line through it on the back. I laminated and hung "peanut free zone" signs with her picture on them where teachers and parent helpers would see them, and laminated a copy of the food allrgy action plan and placed it there and beside the phone. Her teacher wears a fanny pack with her meds.
I love our school and wish we could go there forever!

Posted on: Wed, 08/06/2003 - 11:10am
marina_twinmom's picture
Joined: 09/06/2001 - 09:00

My DS is touch-sensitive to peanuts and almonds, and we haven't figured out how we're going to deal with this yet.
We'd planned to send a "safe snacks list" to the preschool to distribute to the parents (who bring in crackers on their helping days, and also bring in special treats -- which may be homemade -- on birthdays). It's a tricky issue, though, because if I ask the other parents to follow the safe list, but then have DS eat only snacks I provide, they'll probably want to send in unsafe snacks (because DS isn't eating them anyway). If I let him eat the snacks they provide, I'm taking a chance that they'll be unsafe.
We're still trying to figure out how this will work ...


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