R.M. asks from Turtle Creek, PA on July 21, 2008
Lunch - Turtle Creek,PA
I got such great suggestions on my school uniform question that I thought I'd throw this one out to you. I need help with what to send in my daughter's lunch for Pre-K. I'm guessing there is no refrigerator to put all the kids lunches in or is that common? She starts this fall and is almost 4 years old. She is the world's most picky eater. I've been planning to send PB&J, one of the few things she'll eat, but I just read the class is a no nut zone. Is there some sky-rocketing number of kids with this allergy or something? I grew-up on PB&J and our school had peanut butter cookies and celery w/peanut butter all the time. I was all excited when I saw Giada on "Every Day Italian" make a Nutella sandwich, but again...it has nuts.
Any suggestions on foods I could try? My daughter will eat bread & butter, granola, baked or mashed potatoes (occassionally french fries), grilled cheese, ice cream, chocolate, Eat-n-Park Smiley cookies, cc cookies, cheese pizza, and spaghetti w/meat sauce (or strangely clam sauce). Sometimes she'll eat mac-n-cheese and yogurt.
Thanks for your help!
H.F. answers from Pittsburgh on July 26, 2008
Well, instead of Peanut Butter, you could give Soy Butter a try. If your daughter likes it, it would be a viable alternative to the PBJ.
With our daughter, we kind of imitate the lunchables. She loves the chicken nugget one. For some reason, kids seem to love them cold. We buy a big box of the Dinonuggets from Sam's Club or other chicken nuggets if we can't get to Sam's. We put them in a baggie in her lunchbox still frozen in the morning. When it is time for lunch, they are thawed but still cold.
We also try the ones that have crackers or flat bread with lunch meat and cheese. They can either put them together as sandwiches or eat them separately.
Another hit in our house is Gogurt (yogurt in a tube) which is also easily packed. They can also be frozen so that they are still cold at lunch time. Granola bars, cookies, rice krispie treats and bags of chips are great sides.
I know that the lack of peanuts is a big pain in the but for those of us who don't have kids with allergies. On the other hand, I know that some of these kids are so sensitive that even touching a place where a child who had a little peanut oil on their hands had touched can send them to the hospital. Knowing this and having people in my family with severe allergies, I understand that in a lot of these cases the "nut-free" areas are NOT an overreaction but a necessity for the safety of these kids. So I happily comply and feed my kids all the peanut butter they want at home instead.
Anyhow, hope this helps. Good luck.
H. answers from Pittsburgh on July 21, 2008
Even if they have a fridge, it's doubtful they will be able to heat up lunches so not sure if your daughter would be happy eating some of those foods cold either. If you pack it up right before school and have things that you want to stay cold, plenty cold and toss in a cold pack, they will be fine. It's not that long before lunch and they won't be sitting in the sun probably. For items that you want to stay warm - spaghetti or mac and cheese, get a fun thermos dish (they have the drink/straw cups, but also shorter bowl like versions). Make the food nice and hot and fill up the thermos container and tighten the lid - it should be fine as well.
About the nuts - YES, there are TONS of allergies these days. Before having my kids I taught Pre-K, K and 1. It seemed each year there were more and they were more severe. For highly allergic kids they can react to 1/400,000 of a peanut! There are lots of other food allergies out there, but it doesn't seem like they are quite as sensitive to tree nut and peanut allergies. It's a challenge for teachers to keep things safe enough if products are brought in.
I never imagined I'd deal with it, but my son is highly allergic to tree nuts. We have to read labels and he cannot have anything processed in a plant with nuts or on the same machines. He can't have anything from nearly any bakery as a result. If exposed he swells up - lips, throat, & tongue, becomes covered in a red rash and starts wheezing. If not treated immediately it can progress such that he won't be able to breathe. We carry benedryl and an epipen everywhere he is. Thankfully my son seems to understand the consequences and will ask about nuts and knows they are dangerous for him. He backs away if he thinks they are around. Some kids don't care or understand and they will be too interested in the sandwich or new food item and won't think about the allergy and would taste it when a teacher wasn't watching. If you need to use an epipen on an allergic child, you must call 911 and get them to a hospital for further treatment and monitoring. It really is serious even though it seems silly. Like I said - I NEVER imagined I'd be dealing with it as a parent after seeing kids when I was teaching.
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on July 21, 2008
There may be a fridge. If not, you can pot a small ice pack in her lunch box.
I'm lucky, I have a kid who will literally eat anything, including horseradish and Roasted Red Pepper salad dressing!
What about yogurt and a piece of fruit? Or cheese and crackers? Will she eat that? No nuts!
What about the yogurt that has the granola on top? An "ungrilled" cheese sandwich? Carrot sticks, celery sticks and ranch dressing?
The thing with the nut allergies is that the kid(s) who DOES have the allergy can become deathly sick by even sitting at an un-wiped table where another kid had a peanut-containing snack the day before even. Better safe than sorry.
E.S. answers from Pittsburgh on July 22, 2008
Find out if there is an area in the lunch room that is nut-free, or is it all out ban. My kids' daycare is completely nut-free, but the local schools aren't because they know that it's a kids' lunch staple. Our school even offers PB & J as a lunch alternative to the hot lunch! But the kids that are allergic are simply informed to sit away from nut eating kids during lunch and snack time. Pre-school may be a little different, though. Call and find out. Other than that, I sometimes send my kids to school with those Lunchables in their lunch box with a cold pack inside. They stay cold long enough for lunch. Or how about cheese and crackers and fruit? Good luck.
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on July 21, 2008
I would start by purchasing an insulated lunch bag (you can even find some with 2 compartments so you could separate warm and cold foods), some small thermoses (the type that are like insulated bowls with lids) and some ice packs. I’d start rotating among the foods that she does like. Does she ever vary – like will she eat bagels/butter instead of bread/butter? That could offer a little bit of variety. A few times a week I’d also include an item that she doesn’t normally eat. Maybe seeing what other kids eat and maybe some guidance from her teacher will prompt her to try some new things. Here are some favorites of my kids – chicken nuggets, fruits, cooked green beans/corn/carrots, graham crackers, chewy granola bars, applesauce, bologna rolled into tubes, tostitos and salsa, cheese slices, chicken noodle soup. Good luck!
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on July 22, 2008
Hi R.! It sounds like you need to call the school. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to send your child to school with a lunch that has a pb &j.
My youngest packs almost all the time. She likes the uncrustables (either grape or strawberry) a juice pouch, a small bag of chips, fruit and a snack in her lunch. She likes the uncrustables because she puts them in her lunch "box" frozen next to her juice and it keeps it cold. She always buys milk at lunch as well since they don't sell the "big" capri sun juices any more. If they told me she couldn't eat pb&j she would starve all day! She doesn't like any kind of lunchmeat, and only buys once in a while when they have something on our menu that she likes.
Our school started going "nuts" nuts last year. We aren't allowed to bring any treats into the schools anymore...no birthday cup cakes, no cookies at Christmas or candy at Halloween. Our school district said it's because of nut allergies. I know they have a "nut free" table in the lunch room for the younger children. I know that food allergies are very critical in children....but I wonder about how much all the other kids have to miss out on because of a few kids that have allergies.....