Planning Celebrations and Activities in an Elementary Classroom
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)
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!