We had some food allergy lunch drama this morning.
Just a few minutes after dropping my son off at school today (just one, the other was home sick) I got a robo-call from the school saying something broke in the kitchen so they’re serving sack lunches instead of the expected pizza.
For context, this is the first year my kids have been able to get hot lunches. For the last four years, our district’s Food Services (which has changed hands a lot) haven’t been cooperative in getting us allergen information–but this year has been quite good, so far. (Which is great, because the boys were getting tired of our regular lunch rotation. Since they’re picky and don’t like trying new things, feeding them at lunchtime was becoming a challenge.)
Anyway, my kiddo was going to have the pizza today, so he didn’t bring a lunch. I called the school, selecting the option for Food Services, but only got voice mail.
I tried again, selecting the front office this time. They weren’t experts, of course, but they said there would be three options: grilled cheese, a meat sandwich, or peanut butter.
Well, the peanut butter was obviously out for my peanut-allergic child, but he’s also allergic to egg. Could I find out about the bread, and more details on the meat? He didn’t like the grilled cheese the one time he tried it. Plus, with the kitchen out, a simple cheese sandwich seemed more likely than “grilled” cheese.
She transferred me to the kitchen, and that time it rang off the hook. So I tried the office again, planning to ask if someone could just walk down the hall. That time I got someone different, who said all the Food Services staff just left for the high school, where they would use that kitchen to make the lunches. She transferred me to the district Food Services manager, who thankfully answered her phone.
I was able to determine that the meat sandwich was safe, but it was a “mystery meat” combination of ham and turkey (?? Sort of? Maybe? It’s a turkey that’s “like” ham???), which meant there was no way of knowing if my picky child would be willing it eat it.
So in grand Food Allergy Parent fashion, I threw together a lunch and headed back to the school. Upon meeting with my son, I told him the meat sandwich was safe. Since there was a possibility this could happen again, I asked him to get the meat sandwich sack lunch and just try it. If he liked it, great, he should eat it. If not, he could eat the lunch I packed. Either way, at least he had safe food that he would eat.
There’s one more step to eating hot lunches at school that I haven’t addressed yet, in part because I don’t understand how it will work. There’s a medical form we can fill out, that will legally require the school to provide a safe alternative anytime my kiddo shows up for hot lunch, if it isn’t safe. The reason I haven’t done this is I don’t understand how it will work.
I have no desire to force the school to have a safe alternative waiting for my kids every day. As mentioned, they’re both picky eaters, so they only get hot lunch when it’s something they want. That form would cover our butts only when the school deviates from their published schedule.
But if the school doesn’t always have a safe alternative ready, then what? My kids have to wait and eat lunch late while they throw something safe together? And what if they serve up something “safe” my kids would rather starve than eat?
I have the forms anyway and will soon have them signed by our doc, but I still don’t have a good answer from the district about how that will work. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be an issue too often.
Meanwhile, I didn’t eat my own breakfast today until 9:45 because of all the phone calls and running around. The things we do for our food-allergic children.
How was your morning?