By Cheryl McEvoy, NFCA Director of Communications and New Media
Not sure how to prepare your gluten-free kid for school? Besides packing a healthy gluten-free school lunch, there are some steps you can take to make sure your child’s teacher and classmates know and understand what your child can or can’t eat.
It’s best to meet with the school principal, teachers and nurse before the school year starts. If you haven’t done so yet, schedule a meeting so you can go over your child’s specific dietary needs. Complete a 504 Plan so everyone knows their roles and responsibilities.
2. Arm the classroom with gluten-free goodies.
Most schools celebrate birthdays and holidays with special treats, and they usually contain gluten. You can help your child feel included by providing the school with gluten-free cupcakes (keep them in the freezer), pretzels and cookies in advance.
3. Host Celiac Awareness Day at school.
September 13th is National Celiac Awareness Day, but you can raise awareness any day at school. Read a children’s book about celiac disease, such as Mommy, What is Celiac? or Cillie Yack is Under Attack. Make kid-friendly gluten-free treats and share them with the class. Here’s a simple recipe you can make with your child:
Gluten-Free Chocolate-Covered Crackers
1 box of Mary’s Gone Crackers Original Seed Crackers
1 bag of gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
Colored candy sprinkles/jimmies (Check the ingredients to ensure they’re gluten free.)
Plastic snack bags and ribbon
2. Slowly melt chocolate over a double boiler. You can also microwave it in a microwave-safe bowl at 50% power for 20-30 second increments, stirring chocolate in between.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, dip each gluten-free Original Seed Cracker in the chocolate, covering half. Lay the crackers on parchment or wax paper, then add a few sprinkles/jimmies on the chocolate-coated side.
4. Set cookie sheet in a cool place so the chocolate can set.
5. Once chocolate is set, place a few chocolate-coated crackers in each plastic snack bag and tie with a ribbon.
For more advice, download the webinar “Back to School: Preparing to Educate School Administrators on the Importance of Gluten-Free.“