How To Insure Your Child Is Offered a Gluten Free Lunch at School

How To Insure Your Child Is Offered a Gluten Free Lunch at School

Gluten free lunchbox

 

Living a gluten free (GF) lifestyle is far from easy. It’s even harder for children who must depend on others to make their meals for them. I have two children with Celiac Disease and have been managing their gluten free diets for about 6 years now. When they were first diagnosed I thought they would never be able to eat a meal prepared by someone other than myself again! After some time and experience, I learned that with a bit of education and a lot of patience, I could teach ANYONE how to cook for my children – even the cooks in the school cafeteria!

Public schools are required to provide your child with a meal they can eat at school, no matter what their food restrictions are. Beyond this requirement, all of the cooks I have worked with have been more than happy to accommodate my children’s needs because they WANT to. People that cook generally like to please people with their food, so they are typically willing to listen to the needs and desires of those eating it and do whatever they can to meet them.

 

The first thing you need to do is contact the person in your child’s school who is in charge of the kitchen. Inform them of your child’s gluten free diet and ask if they are familiar with what gluten is and if they have any experience with this type of cooking. For the sake of this article, let’s say this person does not.

Gluten free wraps

Next let them know you understand, that is wasn’t that long ago that you didn’t know anything about gluten either, and that you will be happy to share what you have learned with them. Give them a very basic explanation of what gluten is and the types of food that it is in. Then offer to provide them with a more detailed explanation and list of GF foods for them to review and keep on file. Get it to them as soon as possible.

Ask if you are able to get a menu in advance so you can work with them ahead of time, planning how to convert meals on their menu to a GF version. Our school gives us a months worth of menus at a time. Start by choosing one new meal a week (so as not to overwhelm them) to convert to gluten free. Share with the cook an idea or two of how they might easily make it GF (i.e. If it were a hamburger – leave the bun off or suggest a GF hamburger bun they could use as a substitute and where they can find them if that is an option. If it were chicken nuggets, ask if they can offer your child a plain chicken breast instead or suggest a good GF bread crumb and where to get it if they have the time to make nuggets from scratch.) Once they have figured out how to make that particular meal gluten free, you can order it any time you want because they now have a plan for how to prepare a GF version for your child. Continue to add one new meal a week until they have cycled through all of the meals they offer and you have found a solution for making each one gluten free. By now, your child should be able to order most of the meals your school kitchen makes on a regular basis and the kitchen will know how to make each of them meet your child’s gluten free needs. My children eat hot lunch 99% of the time. About the only meal that they skip is fish sticks – because they just don’t like fish, breaded or not!

Gluten free zucchini flat pizza slice

If you take this approach, the kitchen staff will not be overwhelmed, they can learn about different methods and products at a relatively slow pace and they will be happy to accommodate your child’s needs because you have been respectful of their very busy schedule and have been patient with their learning curve. I have used this method three times now: Once when my daughters were first diagnosed, again when we moved to a new town and a third time when my oldest started high school. All three times this method worked like a charm and they were successfully enjoying gluten free hot lunches at school within a few months time. The cooks I have worked with have even gone so far as to tell me they have enjoyed learning about gluten free cooking and have thanked me for teaching them what I know!

 

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-To-Insure-Your-Child-Is-Offered-a-Gluten-Free-Lunch-at-School&id=5039987] How To Insure Your Child Is Offered a Gluten Free Lunch at School

 

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