This lesson helps raise awareness and promote safety about food allergies. The youth will practice packing an imaginary picnic lunch, paying attention to their friends’ dietary restrictions. They will think of treats that everyone can enjoy at special events.
This lesson is about raising awareness and promoting safety about food allergies. If there is a child in your group with food allergies, we suggest you talk to the parent and the child before the lesson to review what will be covered and make sure they are comfortable with it. We encourage you to invite the parent to attend the lesson and be involved.
Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about food allergies. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.
Be the Chef! Create a safe and fun picnic for all.
Let’s pack the picnic. Explain that everyone is going to pack a lunch for an imaginary picnic with your friends. Some of the friends have food allergies. Tell the youth that the most commons foods your guests will be allergic to are the following: peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds and cashews), milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish (such as salmon, tuna), or shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster).
To pack a safe and fun picnic for all the friends, they will want to select items for their picnic basket that are the safest for friends with food allergies.
List of foods for picnic basket:
Green light: Carrot sticks, Apples, Red pepper slices, Oranges, Bananas, Pears, Grapes, Strawberries, Pickles
Yellow light: Cookies, Hard candies, Chocolate, Crackers, Bean dip, Rice cakes, Guacamole, Beef jerky
Red light: Peanut butter sandwiches, Hard boiled eggs, Cheese sticks, Bagels with cream cheese, Chocolate chip-walnut cookies
Instructor note – Items in the yellow light category will have ingredient lists on the label and need to be read carefully to see if they are safe. They may have been made in a factory where other allergens are handled and therefore they shouldn’t be considered completely safe.
Afterwards, talk about the activity. Ask how easy or hard it was. How did they feel about the choices? How did they feel about packing something they knew would be safe for their friends? Share with them that even if they don’t have allergies themselves, their message to their friends who do can be: I care about you; I don’t want you to get sick.
Young people like to celebrate holidays and special events. If a holiday, birthday or a special event is coming up on the school calendar, review these tips with the youth and then brainstorm ways your group could include the ideas to create a successful, allergy-free fun event.
Remind the youth that many young people have food allergies, so thinking of those friends or family members when you give out special treats shows that you care about them and don’t want them to be sick.
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing ways care for friends and family members with food allergies.
What you need to know about food allergies
Food Allergy Awareness for the School Year
Food Allergies and How to Manage Them
Check out Anaphylaxis101.com for additional resources for teachers, parents and young people.
Visit FoodAllergy.org for more resources and consider posting this child-friendly poster in the classroom.