Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ideas for safe classroom treats

My friend Lori emailed me this week, with a problem that seems to be pretty common these days. She volunteered to be a room mom for her son's classroom, which mostly entails planning the parties throughout the school year. She received a list of the food allergies in the class. They include: peanut, sesame, dairy, wheat, and green vegetables. (Do you think one of the kids made up the green vegetables allergy?)

Lori's question was 'what the heck kind of snacks can I get with such a limited choice? Here's the kicker, they need to be pre-packaged and individually wrapped!'

Here were a few of my suggestions, that might help some other room moms out there! Please keep in mind, you should still read the ingredient list every time. Ingredients can change without warning and cross-contamination statements are not mandatory. (Bold items below are links to ingredient info)

The following snacks are free of the top 8 allergens:
Dum Dum lollipops
Snack-sized packs of Skittles
Kelloggs Fruit Flavored Snacks
Snack-sized bags of Lays Classic Potato Chips (be careful of other brands that use peanut oil)
Snack-sized bags of Frito's (original flavor)
Snack-sized bags of Tostitos Natural corn/tortilla chips
Popsicles (read ingredients)

Healthier Options:
small boxes of raisins
individual apple-sauce cups
fruit (apples, bananas) if allowed?

Sun Chips (original flavor) and Rold Gold pretzels would be good if none of the kids in the class had a wheat allergy. Do not buy Snyder's pretzels due to cross-contamination issues. They make peanut-butter pretzels in their plant.

There are some great companies that make allergy-free cookies and treats on dedicated equipment.  Home Free is one of those companies, and they make good chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-chocolate chip, and oatmeal cookies that you can buy individually wrapped, in a case of 12.
Surf Sweets makes allergy-free 8 oz snack size packages of jelly beans, sour berry bears, and gummy bears.

I told Lori that even if she provides safe treats, some of the kids with allergies might say no because they are trained not to eat anything that they're unsure of. Our school district requires that parents are given a 3-day advance notice of a classroom treat or party, so the parents of kids with allergies have time to provide an alternative safe treat.

Thanks, Lori – for being so kind and considering safe snacks! There are a lot of people out there that would have blown it off and bought treats without giving it a second thought. In our case, if our girls accidentally ate a treat that wasn't safe, it would likely result in an anaphylactic reaction.
And even if they don't eat the unsafe food, the residue left on other kids hands and desks from these treats can cause their skin to break out in welts or hives. If they touch the food and rub their eyes or face, it can get bad.


  1. Thank you for this list! I'll be using it when my son and I start preschool this next week. It's a Mommy and Me preschool. I wouldn't dare send him alone with his allergies. I'm so glad to have found it! It's a co-op.

  2. Wow, that's a great concept!
    I actually decided not to send our 3 year old to preschool this year because of her allergies. They drink milk every day, which is really dangerous for her, and most of the snacks I wouldn't even want coming in contact with her skin. I'm hoping that next year when she is 4, I can talk to the director and we can figure out how to make the classroom safe for her. Hopefully by then she won't be eating food she finds on the ground!