Allergies to a variety of foods—notably nuts and wheat—as well as food preferences, such as vegetarianism, are becoming more common. Some allergies are so severe that even breathing in the aroma of the food (e.g. peanut butter) can be life threatening to allergic children and adults.
Food preferences can also have far-reaching effects in this era of prepared foods. Gelatin, an animal product, is an ingredient in many yogurt brands, and lard is found in some muffin mixes.
Nutritional concerns also affect the food we serve at the center. Our menus are developed using guidelines from the Children’s Nutrition Council. We serve a well-balanced variety of kid-friendly foods. Because of this, we believe that occasional birthday treats or other less “healthful” food choices are appropriate in our programs. The “Birthdays” Purple Page has information about how we celebrate at the center.
Gretchen’s House wants to make reasonable efforts to accommodate all special food needs and preferences. Because we are a group setting, this policy requires cooperation from all parents. The list below details our practices and expectations for families regarding food from home. Our goal is to keep meal preparations practical while respecting individual differences and keeping all children safe. We appreciate your help toward achieving this goal.
If a comparably priced, easily found substitution for a menu item is available, it may be purchased for the entire center. For example, a center with a vegetarian child may buy only muffin mixes containing vegetable (rather than animal) fat, rather than giving the vegetarian child a different snack.
Food preferences will be accommodated on a child-by-child basis if a comparably priced, easily found substitution is not available. For example, a vegetarian child may be given tomato sauce without meat on spaghetti, or the center may purchase soy hot dogs for vegetarian children when turkey dogs are served.
If you have religious or lifestyle dietary restrictions, please speak with your center director and teachers about what this will mean for your child in our program.
Allergy accommodations will be made on a child-by-child basis if the condition is not severe or life threatening. For example, a child with a wheat allergy will be given alternative foods when the menu calls for wheat bread or crackers.
Allergy accommodations will be made on a room-by-room basis if the condition is life threatening. For example, in a classroom which includes a child with a severe nut allergy, no nut products will be served.
In the case of an allergy so severe that it is dangerous for the child to touch small amounts of the food or breathe in its odor, staff will take reasonable precautions outside the classroom with the understanding that complete protection is not possible.
Allergies that are a major health problem will be posted on classroom doors.
Only parents of children with food allergies may bring outside food into the center.
Teachers will prepare an appropriate birthday snack with the children in the program.
Groups using the center for parties or meetings may not bring peanut products into the center, and must remove all food and clean up all traces of food when their event is over.
When parents of children with food allergies provide alternative foods such as soy milk, lactose-free cheese, or other substitutions, these must be labeled with the child’s name and discard date.
*You may download a printable copy of our Food Allergies and Preferences policy here.