Church and Food Allergies
Food is a part of church life. Whether it is a potluck, small group meal, snacks in bible classes or in children’s bible hour, food is a big part of many church activities and events. As a parent of a child with food allergies, I know first hand the challenges children go through when they suffer from this problem. While it is the parent’s responsibility to inform the church of their child’s situation, it is the church’s responsibility to have a plan in place for the child’s safety and well-being.
The best practice is to develop a policy with guidelines that all employees and volunteers follow when working with children. The following are several areas to address in your policy.
Communication between leaders, parents and children about the child’s specific allergies
Documentation of the child’s allergies and who will have access to it
Education for leaders, employees and volunteers on Common Allergy Triggers
How to recognize the signs and symptoms of allergies
How to minimize risk of allergic reactions
Procedures and documentation for children who experience an allergic reaction
Emergency Action Plan for children experiencing a server allergic reaction
Since not everyone experiences problems with food allergies, I find that many churches have not realized the need to be prepared for this serious safety issue. Below are several links that contain information that may be helpful as your church works to provide a safer environment for children.
Awareness of Food Allergies Keeps Snack Time Safe (Brotherhood Mutual Insurance)
Why Your Church Needs a Plan for Allergic Reactions (Church Law & Tax)
Proposed Church Guidelines for Managing Children and Teens with Food Allergies (Arizona Food Allergy Alliance)
Church, Food Allergies, and Advocating for your Child (The Food Allergy Mom) A story of a mother with a child with life-threatening food allergies.