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Phone apps can address food allergy concerns
The beginning of a new school year also signals the time when teachers will be learning about their students’ special needs, including food allergies.
A recent robotics camp gave me the opportunity to work with a child who has severe food allergies. He is allergic to more than 144 different food items, including dairy, chicken and nuts. The camper could not even smell fried chicken without having a reaction. We spent countless hours rehashing the camp menu to accommodate his food allergies. In the process, we stumbled across Smartphone apps that can be used to make life with a child who has severe food allergies more manageable.
The first was an iPhone app developed by the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation; it is available for download through their website at http://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/. The app gives users access to the foundation’s online community. The website also offers members access to recipes that avoid specific allergens. Menu planning is hard enough without having to account for food allergies. The website offers ideas for everything from birthday parties to snacks to school lunches.
Another useful app is the MyEpiPenApp, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/epipenapp. This app is useful for caregivers, teachers and camp workers because it allows parents to upload a picture of their child, their allergies and possible reactions and send the information to caregivers so it is readily available. The app also demonstrates how to use an EpiPen if the child goes into anaphylactic shock.
Our robotics camp included trips to two local restaurants for an etiquette lesson and a community service project. I made sure to download apps that told me what menu items the child could eat. We used Allergy Caddy ($1.99), Hold the Allergen (free), and Allergy Eats (free). Allergy Eats even includes a special section on restaurants at Disney World.
It was a pretty big deal for our camper that he got to order a plain baked potato with crumbled bacon off the menu, just like the other kids. Up to this point, his mother had packed each of his meals for him.
Gluten is another common ingredient that gives me fits. I can spot typical allergens, such as peanut and dairy, pretty well on the packaging, but trying to find out whether something has gluten in it can be a real pain. Two of the preschool children I teach at church are intolerant to gluten. Now, I might be a bad influence on my students, but I certainly don’t want to send them to the hospital because I picked up the wrong cookies as I was flying through the grocery store. We eat a lot of grapes for snack these days.
As a result, the kids have a look of betrayal on their faces when I bring out snack. They know they should be getting something sweet for snack – after all, it is my job to send them home high on sugar – and they can’t quite figure out where it all went wrong. Luckily for them, I am ready for my little BibleBugs’ snack time this year. I have downloaded a gluten-free scanner to my phone. The app uses the camera on my Smartphone to scan barcodes and shows me if potential snacks contain gluten.
Personally, I am feeling pretty froggy when it comes to snack time these days. Between amazing parents who provide custom snacks when necessary and my handy-dandy smart phone apps, we will soon create a feeling of normalcy for the children affected by food allergies.