Saturday, January 21, 2012

Allergies and your Church

I had a reader email me asking how I deal with my child's food allergies at church so I thought I'd just post about my experience and give you some ideas of ways you can help your church in this area.

I have been very blessed to be in a church where my child's food allergies are taken seriously. I only knew of one child (I'm sure there were more) at church having food allergies before my daughter was diagnosed as a baby. This diagnosis changed our lives in so many ways, not the least of which, was the way we had to train our minds to be on alert every time we were going to have to leave our girl with another caregiver. We are in church a few times a week and almost every time a snack is given in her class. (Especially in younger age classes) We made sure to remind the nursery workers and/or teachers every time we dropped her off that she has food allergies. I remember talking with our nursery supervisor (who is really on the ball and organized) about what I could do to keep my girl safe in her classes. We talked about protocol and then I was able to order allergy alert stickers for our church that were very bright and drew attention to whomever was wearing them. The stickers have proven to be a good alert system at our church. We use a check-in system for the nurseries and the stickers are at the supervisor's stand in the hallway. I would place one on my girl's back and one on her bag. Sometimes I'd put one on her cup. There are several kids in our church now with food allergies because it's just becoming more common.

I would suggest talking with your church leader (who is in charge of the nursery or children's ministry) bout possibly getting stickers for food allergic kids. You can find some good ones on or just google 'food allergy sticker' and you'll find several options. I suggest getting bright colored ones so that they are noticeable on any color of clothing. If your church doesn't want to provide them, buy some for your child. Thy really are a great investment.

Also, speak to the person in charge about what needs to happen in case of an allergic reaction. We are blessed to have name tags (as part of our check-in system) with the parent's cell number on them. I know most of our nursery workers and they know me, but if I don't know a teacher that may be substituting in my girl's class, I will introduce myself and explain the allergy issues. My girl is 6 now and very aware of her allergies, so she knows not to eat certain things. If she isn't sure, she will almost always decline or bring it home so I can check it out first.

Nursery workers change at every service so I know it is a bit scary leaving your child in someone else's hands. When my girl was younger, I would go back to her class between services to let the new teachers know of her allergies. You just have to go the extra mile to be sure your kid is safe. It is very tiring to repeat the same spiel over and over, but that is the norm for a family affected by food allergies.

Another thing I do is to send her own snack with her when I know there will be a special snack. Otherwise, lately, I just don't send one. Her teachers have gotten used to her allergy needs and they normally have something she can eat or else they don't do a snack. The older she gets, the easier it gets food wise. Emotionally, though, it is getting harder. We had another discussion tonight about why God has allowed her to have food allergies. It isn't easy. It's a very difficult thing to live with, but God knows all about it and we just have to trust that His way is best.

If you have any specific questions related to this topic, feel free to email me or ask it in the comment section. I want to help you in any way that I can.

1 comment:

  1. We just started going to a new church and on our 2nd visit (a Wednesday night) someone gave my son a mini Muskateer bar. (He is allergic to eggs/nuts). He got so sick! It was a lesson well learned that I can not stop being diligent for one second and must make sure EVERYONE he comes in contact with knows about his allergies.