Not sure what to send to school for snacks and birthday parties? Whether or not your kids have food allergies or just their classmates, here are some allergy-friendly school snack ideas and tips!
If you are a parent of a child with food allergies, you may have read the acerbic HuffPost article by Carina Hoskisson. If you haven’t read it yet, hang on to your seat… In a nutshell, Carina is bitter at having to accommodate kids with food allergies at her child’s school. Boohoo. Let’s shed a tear for the inconvenience. She is lucky her kids don’t have severe food allergies…that’s an even bigger inconvenience.
I could say so many things about Carina and her attitude problem, but I don’t want to stoop to her level. Instead of getting on my soapbox (it’s a big box…), I decided instead to help people by providing some healthy school snack ideas.
Check out our roundup of allergy friendly school snacks!
If you have kids with food allergies, this list may be nothing new, but it’s a great resource for people who don’t have special diets and might be scratching their head when faced with what to bring for school snacks. These snacks are mostly healthy, too. And no, Carina: air is not on the list.
- Fruit: unless a child is allergic to fruit, this is a safe and healthy choice. Dried fruit is another story: many are packaged in a facility with nuts, so always read the label on dried fruits.
- Vegetables: baby carrots, celery sticks, and baby bell peppers all make great snacks.
- Fruit snacks: just be sure to read the label as some have been packaged in a facility with nuts. Some good brands: FruitaBu and Stretch Island Fruit Company, Clif ropes, SunRype (check these – some are made in a facility with nuts), Annie’s, and many others! There are plenty of good ones to choose from, but always read the label!
- Applesauce: individually packed applesauce with no sugar added is a healthy choice and is usually safe (again, read labels).
- Allergy-Friendly Cookies & Snack Bars: Enjoy Life Foods and Cybeles’s Free to Eat make lines of allergy-friendly cookies and snacks that are yummy (I personally prefer Enjoy Life Foods to Cybele’s)! One of the moms in my son’s class buys Enjoy Life Cookies for my son when it is her son’s snack day. She recognizes that it is tough for my son to see everyone getting snacks he can’t have, so she brings him his own treat 🙂 She is truly considerate and I am so thankful she takes the time to do this!
- Allergy-friendly versions of favorites: pretzels, crackers, etc. An idea: bring regular crackers for the class, and special crackers for the child with food allergies.
- Individual juices or “sodas” (like Izze, Zevia, etc). There are lots of fruit juices out there without added sugar that are affordable
- Toys and trinkets: if you child is having a birthday, who says you have to bring food? Kids love pens, pencils, bracelets, glow sticks, tattoos, etc. and they aren’t going to cause allergies unless someone has a latex allergy.
No-Bake Chocolate Chip Oat Bars make a great nut-free school treat!
If your own child isn’t the one with food allergies, play it safe and buy allergy-friendly packaged items when possible rather than trying to make homemade items allergy-friendly. I don’t let my kids eat cake or cookies people bring to school even if they say it is nut-free since there is a risk of cross contamination and I don’t know how or where it was prepared.
All that being said, I personally never put the obligation for my children’s snack items on anyone else. Here’s what we do:
- For my son’s first grade class, snacks are brought in daily by parents and we rotate between kids and their parents. I pack a bag full of approved snacks for my son, and his teacher keeps this in the cupboard and lets me know when it needs refilled. When parents send fruit or fruit snacks, then he can have the same snack as everyone else. But if people brings a snack he can’t have (like cookies, cake, etc.), he has a snack from his bag. Parents aren’t obligated to bring anything special for my son, although some do since they are really considerate 🙂
- For my daughter’s 3rd grade class, kids are responsible for their own snacks and her snack is packed in her lunchbox every day. For birthday parties, my daughter’s teacher sends me a text at the beginning of the week when there are birthdays coming up so we can send a special treat for her.
- While the teachers try to keep people from bringing nut items to school, I don’t place an obligation on other parents to provide my kids with safe foods. It is a huge gamble to feed my kids food made in someone’s kitchen, so we play it safe and send our own snacks.
- On special occasions I make special treats, like Valentine’s Day doughnuts, or cupcakes, cookies, etc.
If you’re looking for some good snack or dessert recipes that are nut-free, look through my snack recipes, dessert recipes, or search our site for some great ideas. Here are some good ideas below, too:
Here are some other snack ideas for birthday parties:
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist