Planning Celebrations and Activities in an Elementary Classroom

Dear Families,

As we face a national epidemic of overweight children, life-threatening food allergies and the associated health consequences of these conditions, schools are turning to alternative ways to celebrate.

FACT: From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased 18% among children under age 18 years. (CDC 2010) A life threatening allergic reaction can be triggered by minute amounts of an allergen when ingested.

FACT : In 2011-2012, childhood obesity rates were 8.4% of 2 to 5 year-olds, 17.7% of 6 to 11 year-olds and 20.5% of 12 to 19 year-olds. (CDC 2014)

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS : Our elementary schools now celebrate food free birthdays by enjoying fun activities or projects. Examples of celebration ideas that parents and guardians may want to provide for their child include:

  • Bringing in non-food items (age appropriate) for celebrating such as: pencils, erasers, crayons, plant seeds, bookmarks, stickers, etc.
  • Arranging with your child’s teacher a time to come to school as a “Guest Reader” to celebrate the special day or donating a book in your child’s name.
  • Donating games for indoor recess or supplies for outdoor recess - jump ropes, balls, etc.
  • Engaging students in a special art project (teachers may provide suggestions).

Please consult with your child’s teacher to ensure that any items you wish to provide are safe for that classroom. All parents/guardians must advise their child’s teacher of a celebration request at least one week in advance.

OTHER CELEBRATIONS and ACTIVITIES : May involve food with careful planning. To maintain the safety of all of our students, we must adhere to the following:

  • No unplanned or homemade foods will be allowed into a classroom or be given to students at any time. No food items will be sent home with students including candy attached to Valentine’s cards or in goodie bags.
  • The teacher will base food item choices by reviewing the classroom confidential list of food allergies and dietary restrictions and consulting with those student’s parents/guardians.
  • Only planned, store-labeled food items will be allowed (in order to have availability to ingredient lists, if necessary). Fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices are preferred.
  • Written notice of the food items (with brand names, if necessary) will be sent to all parents before a planned celebration/activity.
  • Written permission for the food items will be obtained by teacher from parents/guardians of students with food allergies/dietary restrictions.

We encourage you to be creative with “alternative to food” ideas for ALL!