Working with Food Allergies in the 4-H Club Meeting

Food allergies can be very serious, especially among children. With so many young children being diagnosed with food allergies, it is very important that all understand what to look for.  According to the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), one in every 13 children is being diagnosed with a food allergy and every three minutes, a food allergy sends someone to the emergency room.

FARE states that there are eight major food allergens which causean estimated 90% of all allergens.  These foods include: egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts(almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios), soy, fish, wheat, crustacean shellfish(crab, lobster, crayfish, and shrimp).  These are the allergens which typically cause the most serious food allergy reactions but there are more than 170 foods known to cause allergic reactions.

If your county utilizes online enrollment, please encourage 4-H parents to put any kind of health consideration into 4-H Online when completing their child’s enrollment.  Health forms for camp must also be fully completed.  This is the first, and sometimes only, way to find out this information. Volunteers need to be aware of any food allergies which put children at risk.

Think about club meetings and snacks.  Make sure all parents know of any foods that must be avoided.  This needs to be enforced at the club meetings so there is never a chance of an allergic reaction.

A great option would be to serve fruits or vegetables at the meeting.  Typically, these are not common allergens among children.  This would also promote healthier eating at club meetings.  Cloverbuds love to help make food. What are some snacks that are appropriate for them to help prepare?  Some fun ideas include a relish tray, fruit tray, hummus, ants on a log, guacamole, or animals made out of fruit/vegetables.  Have fun and be creative.  Don’t know where to begin?  Check the library or do a search on line.  And be mindful of serving healthy drinks as well such as water, 100% juice, or unsweetened tea.

For more information on food allergies, please visit www.foodallergy.org.

Focus your Head, Heart, and Hands on the 4th H at the Fair!

Although fairs might have a reputation for deep fried foods and rides, there are plenty of ways to make a day at the fair healthier for you and your young child.

Here are some suggestions:

HEAD

  • Plan ahead. Before you head to the fair, offer your child a healthy meal or snack.  Fresh or frozen fruit is a good choice, since it might be difficult to find at the fair.
  • Seek out healthier food options at the fair. Most fairs offer some or all of these items. Although some contain added sugar or a fair amount of sodium, they are healthier choices than corn dogs, fries, and elephant ears.
    • Corn on the cob
    • Roasted nuts
    • Dipped fruits
    • Pickles
    • Popcorn
    • Turkey leg (often big enough for the whole family!)
  • Don’t be fooled! For example, before you order a “fruit smoothie” ask if it has real fruit in it or if it comes from a mix.
  • Avoid smoking areas and ask that tobacco and e-cigarette policies be enforced so children won’t breathe secondhand smoke.

HEART

  • Getting your heart rates up by walking depends on comfortable feet. You and your child will see and do more at the fair if you both wear the right shoes.  Athletic shoes might be better than sandals, as you might need to walk through gravel, dirt, grass, straw, or even mud.
  • Help your child identify one thing he or she really loves about the fair, and spend plenty of time making the most of that experience. It might be a ride, a game, a certain barn, or a petting zoo. If it involves a sweet or fried treat, choose a reasonable serving size or consider splitting it among several people. For example, one funnel cake can serve up to 4-6 people. After the treat, enjoy some lower sugar and lower fat items at the fair.

HANDS

  • Carry a water bottle so your child can stay hydrated without loading up on sugary soda with empty calories. Save money by refilling the water bottle at the drinking fountain. For a fun beverage, order a hand-shaken lemonade with half the usual sugar.
  • Slap on a hat and spread on plenty of sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned, even when the day is a little cloudy.
  • Avoid spreading disease by not eating in the barns, washing hands (yours and your child’s) before you eat, and washing hands after touching animals. If you can’t find hand-washing stations with soap and water, use hand sanitizers.

Campus Connections

Hello again! Great to make this 4-H Cloverbud Connections with you.

This Cloverbud Connections issue is about healthy living. Living healthy is not something that should only be thought about later in life or as an adult, but across the lifespan, including childhood. Cloverbud kids are at a perfect age to start learning and living healthy.
Hopefully you have used and seen The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities which is the latest curriculum written for you, the 4-H Cloverbud advisor. It contains many activities to use with Cloverbud participants. One of the sections is on Healthy Living and contains six curriculum pieces including “Fitness is Fun” and “Making Healthy Food Choices.” There are numerous activities in each curriculum piece to use with Cloverbud children to promote healthy living. If you are not familiar with The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities please check with your local 4-H Youth Development professional.

Thanks for your commitment to the 4-H Cloverbud program as we enhance the healthy development of children throughout the state!