Questions about school parties

Posted on: Thu, 01/17/2002 - 2:31am
3mom's picture
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Joined: 05/29/2001 - 09:00

I am one of the room mothers for my son's 3rd grade class. Several months ago a girl in his class was diagnosed pa. We didn't find out about this until Halloween. She is very good about knowing what she can and can't have, and her mom has sent in various treats she can take if there's a special occasion at school. As a matter of course, whenever we send out notices about class parties, we always ask for treats without nuts or peanuts. Yesterday, however, we had an embarrassing situation. Turns out it was the teacher's birthday, and one of the other class moms ran out and bought a birthday cake at the last minute(we found out that morning). She bought it at the bakery dept. of a large dairy/produce store, that is most definetly off limits for a pa person. (The store clearly states that there is a risk of cross-contamination of most of their baked goods). The poor mom didn't realize it until we were cutting the cake what she had done, and felt positively awful. She was so apologetic to the girl, and felt so guilty. I happened to be there because I was in the building for another event, and even though I had nothing to do with buying the cake, I felt horrible too.

So this leads me to some questions: First of all, is there any commercial bakery cakes (such as Entenmenn's, Friehoffer's, etc.)
out there that is "safe"? We are located in lower Fairfield County, CT (just outside NYC). Would it be appropriate to call the mom and ask her what baked goods or other treats are safe for her to have? Even though we ask for no-nut treats, would it be OK to elaborate and state flat-out something like "there is a severely tn/pn allergic child in class, please do not send in anything that contains nuts". I have been a room mom for several years for two of my kids, and I can't believe that some people ignore this request.

On a side note, I ran a ziti dinner last night for our school. This same mom marched into the back of the kitchen, asked for the person in charge (me) and asked how all the food was made, what was in it, could she see the cans, what was for dessert, where did it come from, etc, etc. I was very impressed and gladly shared all the information with her. Since we bought the meatballs and did not make them from scratch, I couldn't show her the label, since the boxes had long been thrown out. So she just told her no meatballs since she couldn't read the ingredients. I did explain to her about the cake, and she was very nice about the whole thing. I also told her about this website and how wonderful everyone was on it.

Since this little girl will be with us in school for the next 5 years, we want to do better. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks much!!!

Posted on: Thu, 01/17/2002 - 12:26pm
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

I'll try to give you some ideas - you raised a lot of issues.
You may want to suggest that the PA girl bring in a few of her own "safe" treats to keep at school. Your cake story is not uncommon - there will be other times where she and the teacher are not comfortable with her eating the class's food and having a sub is a good thing.
Also, in my experience as a room parent for the past 3 years, no matter what you do or say people will still send in unsafe stuff. I don't mean to sound nasty when I say that - they are just not used to thinking about all of the things that we all think about all the time and they forget. Many people don't think to read the labels for "may contains" because it would never occur to them that there would be any nuts in candy corn (a real example from this fall!) I think that as the room parent you can best help by being sure that you have some safe options for her at every party and let her know what you aren't sure about ("those brownies are from Mrs. X and she dropped them off this am - I don't know how they were made" etc...)
Thanks for thinking ahead on this!

Posted on: Thu, 01/17/2002 - 12:30pm
Chicago's picture
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Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

Sorry - forgot about the bakery question. IMO, bakery stuff is not safe. Cross contamination, using peanuts mixed in with tree nuts to save money, their dispaly cases etc... - just not safe.
I have made exceptions when I got to talk to the bakery folks BEFORE the stuff was made (like for a special b-day cake or the wedding my dd was a flower girl at) and learn more about their processes and make them aware - but there is no easy brand name answer that I know of!

Posted on: Thu, 01/17/2002 - 1:10pm
joeybeth's picture
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Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

As the mom of 2 PA little girls, I do not get upset when someone brings in cupcakes or a cake or other non-peanut (but "may contain") items. My daughter knows she isn't to eat anything I haven't sent from home and I'm not that uptight about her being in the same room with "may contain" items. Items that contain peanuts as an ingredient, however, do upset me. I feel like the risk of my children being affected by a reeses peanut butter cup or butterfinger or peanut butter cracker in the room, for example, is much higher than if other children are eating white birthday cake with white icing. It would be so wonderful if all the "may contain" items were eliminated from the room too but I don't see that happening for us. That's my perspective at the moment. If we ever have a contact reaction from a "may contain" item or hear of someone else that has then I may have to rethink this. Joey

Posted on: Thu, 01/17/2002 - 1:59pm
Carefulmom's picture
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Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

3mom, I just want to comment how EXTREMELY NICE it is of you to come to this site and ask us for our opinions about keeping this child safe. This is the exact opposite of what we often encounter, so this child is really really lucky to have you as a room parent. It is too bad there aren`t more people like you.
As far as the question you asked, I think it is not at all inappropriate to ask the mom to sit down with you and talk about what is and isn`t safe. She won`t be offended; she will really appreciate the fact that you are making such an effort to keep her child safe. I don`t know how much time you have spent reading these boards, but each parent seems to have their own guidelines about what is safe for their child. An example is the "may contains"; some parents are comfortable having this in the classroom and some aren`t. I think you should sit down and talk to her. The very few times a parent has bothered to do that with me, I have appreciated it beyond words.
[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited January 18, 2002).]

Posted on: Fri, 01/18/2002 - 6:43am
Going Nuts's picture
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Joined: 10/04/2001 - 09:00

3Mom,
It is really wonderful of you to take this so seriously - I'm quite sure that every parent on this board would give their eye teeth to have you as their class parent!
By all means, talk to the little girls parents and find out what is safe. But even this is not foolproof, as ingredients change. Not to mention that Twinkies made at one factory can be safe but Twinkies from another one aren't. Honestly, the best thing is for this child to have a "safe stash" in the classroom so that there is never a question of what is OK and what isn't. That's what we do, and it works out fine.
Again, pat yourself on the back for being a really great person.
Amy

Posted on: Tue, 11/05/2019 - 4:15pm
chicken's picture
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Joined: 10/31/2019 - 12:07

I have seen this many times before. I make sure there will be some safe snacks or treats and I will even bring them myself and people always tend to understand. Many people do not take this as seriously as you do so it is really impressive. More than often I see people who think that it is not a big deal or what is the worst that can happen. Thank you for this post.

Posted on: Thu, 11/07/2019 - 2:48pm
sunshinestate's picture
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Joined: 10/18/2019 - 09:21

This is such an important topic. I wish there were more room mothers like you. You are going so above and beyond for this girl. I would call the PA girl's mom and talk to her about this. See what brands she buys and that way you are totally covered and don't have to worry. I order from Smiley Cookies https://www.smileycookie.com/shop-by-category/tree-nut-peanut-free-cookies.html. They are guaranteed peanut free and nut free and they have a peanut-free and tree-nut free facility so there's no chance of cross-contamination.

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