Allergies in our Children’s Ministries
Can we really make food that is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, sugar free, peanut free and corn free? There is a lot that is possible with a little time and energy.
In our busy lives it is very difficult to add one more thing to our schedules. To a parent who deals with allergies in their children it is a difficulty they are forced to bear. Is it the responsibility of the children’s Ministry to be sure these children feel welcome? Of course, it is. Unfortunately, most of the kid-loving youth group foods have ingredients that will harm these special children. At this time, especially on the west coast, there are no excuses. The internet is full of recipes and health food stores are full of pre-made options. The question on every young person’s heart (adults too) is, “does this God of the universe, these Christians profess, really see me?” If we don’t make an effort to accommodate allergies, then are we really loving them? No matter our intentions, I contend that they are not feeling loved in this way, more like tortured.
I feel strongly that bearing one another’s burdens in Gal 6:2, especially applies for children with allergies. (Who are weaker in their faith.). My son stopped going to youth group, because it was too hard on him to watch everyone eating all the things he couldn’t have. I’m not saying this to make everyone eat the same weird food, all the time. But if you know you are having pizza and you have someone with a known allergy, have a pizza option they can have (let their parents know). I tried to ask the leader about his snack schedule. He just had no idea how important it was to my son. “Stinks to be you, now pass me the pizza,” is not a Christian reply to a child with allergies. At a young age, indifference could mean the difference between life or death. Really, it is a matter of salvation. We chose to do something else with that time, before he got too many messages of indifference to his hurt.
There are options. I just made some fantastic cupcakes that are dairy free, egg free, gluten free and soy free. Crazy, I know! But my son is having four friends over for his birthday. My son has egg allergies, 2 friends have gluten allergies and his sister has a dairy allergy. It is getting more and more common. If allergies aren’t a problem in your ministry (or at your parties) yet, it will be in time. Make the choice now to have compassion on those children. I will be making more recipes available that can help kids with allergies fit-in.