Talking Allergies

Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?
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Author:  mom of two [ Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

We are wondering if anyone has been successful in implementing alternatives to hot lunch fundraisers at school? Has anyone been successful in getting the school to not provide allergens? Does anyone have examples of inclusive hot lunch days? Any ideas for alternatives?

back story: We have increasing concerns that allergens other than peanuts and tree nuts are not treated equally. Our daughter has these allergies, and we are grateful for safety procedures (school does not fundraise with or provide peanuts/nuts) - but she is also allergic to egg and anaphylactic to milk. She just turned 6 and constantly puts hands in her mouth, which we try to discourage. We do not want to restrict what other kids bring in their lunches. We would like the school to set an example (for safety purposes and inclusion) and not serve allergens for fundraisers or as rewards (i.e. pizza day...) that happen during the school day.

We want to be able to offer alternative ideas that would be inclusive for everyone (preferably not food - though any ideas would be welcome!). We thought of having TV Friday's (i.e. tooney to watch a movie or TV show over lunch), and we have read that at larger events renting a photo booth has been successful. We are looking for other ideas!!

Author:  spacecanada [ Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

I agree with everything you said. Other fundraisers to look into might be selling store gift cards (can be quite profitable), magazine subscriptions, student union ticket pack (coupon books), pyjama days, extra recess time, or casual dress Fridays (pay a loonie not to have to wear school uniform - if applicable). There are so many fun ideas kids will enjoy more than hot lunch and food rewards. Some fun non-food rewards for classes,beyond those mentioned above, include: glow sticks, stickers, decorating t-shirts, puzzle/maze/activity books/pages, field trips, have the teacher do something silly for a day (like wear a clown wig). Kids will remember these more than food.

Author:  renie [ Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

My daughter is also anaphylactic to multiple foods (has reacted with contact) and we completely experience the inequity between how peanut/treenut allergies are understood vs. those that are "less prevalent". I find people confuse the prevalence with severity to the disadvantage of kids who have less commonly understood allergens.

I should also say that we get the ends of the spectrum - my daughter is also allergic to some treenuts. My son on the other hand has the "easier" experience as he's ana to peanuts & treenuts (and a medication, but that is low concern in the class environment).

We've been in 3 schools (one change to a move between provinces and one change from independent to public by choice) and in our experience, there have been different levels of understanding and different protocols at each school.

We've found that building strong, reasonable relationships with the administrators & teachers has been critically important to dialogue and risk mitigation strategies.

That said... we also understand that there are very real pressures in schools - not only budgetary but also expectations from the community and it makes for numerous challenges. Change isn't easy for most people never mind on the level required to be successful with something like replacing a milk program or getting rid of pizza days.

Personally, we have never sought to do this. We have our own family reasons and know everyone approaches these tough topics with different needs, anxieties & perspectives. (in other words, our experience is only that - one family's approach)

In early years (and yes although she's older, my daughter still puts things in her mouth despite being aware that it introduces/increases risk...) we found that risk mitigation strategies were the best approach - for example, there was extra supervision, mandated hand washing, "shared" supplies being away/offlimits during pizza day and the custodians did an extra classroom clean up, etc. We continue to press for risk mitigation strategies while adjusting them as circumstances and age change as well as her ability to assume greater responsibility.

This year we moved to public school and when I first brought up the topics of pizza day, "lunch lady" and the milk program, it was clear that immediately it was assumed we'd request it to be cancelled. That wasn't my intent... I just needed to learn how they happened so we could partner in risk mitigation. The real fact is, the schools do make a significant amount of money with the food/milk programs and many families love the convenience of not packing food. If you want to think of proposing alternatives, you might want to inquire about the level of funding it contributes to the budget to begin the search of possible alternates (I suspect it would be something new and creative). To the administrator and community, cutting these programs means providing less experiences & programming to the whole school. The school we are in is new this year so the experience may not be indicative of established schools, but we have a fundraiser what feels like every week. Aside from pizza, lunch lady and milk, they have done the holiday cards by kids, movie nights, athletic wear, book drives/sales and a whole bunch of others. I can try to collect ideas if that would help? (as you might be able to tell, I am experiencing fund-raising fatigue!)

I'm not saying I like them. Or agree with them. In an ideal world, my daughter wouldn't experience it (and honestly, she does better with it than I do - I am a nervous wreak every pizza day). One of our family practices though is to always try to find the bright side. What she has learned out of this is that she can be safe around her allergens. That just like in the grocery store, her allergens are very pervasive and most of her life it is simply not practical to have an allergen-free experience.
This has (in her words) taught her patience, empathy and given her confidence.

I know I am not providing the answers you were hoping people could contribute. I am hoping though that it is at least another perspective on this spectrum & adventure.

I do wish you luck and I know the anxieties for mis-understood allergens. I'm sure if you conquer this, there will be generations to benefit! Maybe keep the discussions at the highest level... it isn't only allergic kids who are excluded from these food events but also many diabetics, kids on special diets, kids from different cultural backgrounds etc... One day, it will need to be tackled if the schools actually balance the talk of inclusion with the reality of the experience for kids who are excluded...

Please share your progress!
Kindest regards,

Author:  _Susan_ [ Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

I was able to find hot dogs and buns that were a safe for my daughter (avoiding egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts and most legumes-not soy) They are Maple Leaf Top Dogs & Betty Brand buns.

The school was happy to sub these for her on hot dog day.

We also used The Lunch Lady which is mainly in Ontario but also as franchises in BC, Alberta and Manitoba. They are pn/tn free but are allergy aware and will work with you to make it inclusive.

Your school can decide to offer it to parents as a hot meal program or as a fundraiser (a small portion of the entre price goes to the school),

Author:  soccermom [ Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

If you're just looking for alternatives for a fundraiser: One year our school asked each family to donate what they could afford, in lieu of doing fundraising. They received so much, we didn't have to fundraise the following year at all. And we didn't have to bother our familes/neighbours about buying anything!

Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

If you are looking for straight up fundraisers, I fell upon a win-win situation in the spring of 2011. An aging water main led to an outdoor water ban in my community.

I found an Ontario company that recycles food grade pickle and olive barrels into rain barrels and sells them as a fundraiser for non-profit groups!

I advised my city councilor that our little elementary school would holding this fundraiser. I thought it would help to calm some unhappy residents. It turned out that the city had been planning to offer rebates to residents who purchased a rain barrel as part of their emergency preparedness planning.

The city was so excited that we were going to do this (because it solved their problem) that they provided us with the rebate forms, tables, chairs and canopies to keep us comfortable!

We sold the rain barrels for $55.00. Residents were able to get $50.00 back with the rebate. The school received $10.00 per rain barrel. The supplier couldn't keep up with the demand and in the end, we sold 1 000 rain barrels!

We shared the money 60:40 with a local high school because we used their parking lot and their student volunteers (who needed community hours anyways).

We ended up outfitting every class with a smart board and had plenty of money left over to purchase camera accessories for the smart boards that allowed the teachers to load books etc. onto the smart board. We even had money left over the following year! :D

Author:  mom of two [ Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alternatives to 'hot lunch' fundraisers?

Thank you! These are great ideas :) Really wish we had the lunch lady here!

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