Monday, July 19, 2010

Back-to-School Shopping List for Food Allergies

by Kelley Lindberg

It’s official – it’s back-to-school shopping time! My son cringes every time we walk past a back-to-school display or see a back-to-school ad. He nearly went into hysterics when the Land’s End Back-To-School catalog showed up in our mailbox a couple of weeks ago. He’s watching the days on the calendar count down like a condemned man choosing his last dinner from a menu.

Despite his protests and heartfelt denials, school is still coming, and we still have to stock up on those supplies. Of course his back-to-school list includes a few extra items because of his food allergies. So if you are preparing a shopping list for a food-allergic student, don’t forget these essentials:
  • Epinephrine Injectors – I get a pair to leave at the school’s office, and a pair for him to carry in his lunch box. (EpiPens, Twinject, and Adrenaclick are the three brands used in the U.S.) Be sure you check the expiration dates to make sure they’ll last through the school year.
  • Benadryl – Like with the EpiPens, I put some in the office, and some in his lunch box. Again, check the expiration dates.
  • Lunch Box – He always takes a home lunch and sits with his food-allergic buddy.
  • Thermos for hot foods – he lives on noodles, but these are great for safe soups, chili, and casseroles, too.
  • Beverage Thermos or water bottle
  • Handi-Wipes – I always put a couple of individually wrapped Handi-Wipes in his lunch box so he can clean off the table if he needs to.
  • Food Allergy Action Plan – Make an appointment with your child’s allergist or pediatrician now, and have them fill out a Food Allergy Action Plan to give to your school. I attach a current photo of my son, and then I make a few color copies of it. I give one to the school office, one to each of his teachers for them to hang in their classroom, and one to the school cafeteria manager for her to hang in the kitchen, so that the lunch workers will know him and recognize him if he has a reaction. If your doctor doesn’t have their own form, use this Food Allergy Action Plan from FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network). It’s probably the most widely used form in the U.S., and most doctors recognize and use it.
  • Medical ID Bracelet or Necklace – if your child will wear one of these, it’s a great idea. It is a visual reminder for teachers of your child’s allergies, and it’s an instant help for EMTs who might be summoned if your child has a reaction. Try American Medical ID (my son likes their sports band bracelets) or Sticky J Jewelry (some amazingly cute childrens' bracelets, including leather and hemp, beaded, etc.), but there are several online vendors who make these types of medical ID bracelets.
Do you have any other great suggestions for allergy-aware back-to-school supplies? Be sure to share them with us!

Happy shopping!



Susan Weissman said...

Just added on thing to that list -- My local health food store just re-stocked on Enjoy Life Foods chocolate bars and I just re-stocked my pantry. I despite my best attempts to send baked subsitutes to his school parties, every once in a while I get caught unaware. (So does the teachers.) SO I love to give teachrs a stash of non-perishable treats to stick in a classroom drawer for "just in case."

Oh - and I checked the dates on the bars to make sure they would be fresh for at least six months.

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

Great suggestion, Susan! Safe treats for the teacher's room is a wonderful idea!

nykki and erik said...

kelly- its nykki I can't find our email and this could you please email me back at regarding helping me at my kids school.