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.