Have you ever encountered a potluck event that turned out to be allergy-friendly? Well, that’s exactly what I did with our elementary school Harvest Festival!
The Harvest Festival has been going on at our school since a few years before Zax started Kindergarten. (He’s in 5th grade now!!!) It’s a celebration of healthy food, local food, and building community. Each class creates a dish, usually incorporating ingredients from the school garden. Families are also invited to bring a soup, salad, or bread to share. Then there’s music and pumpkin decorating and crafts and fun activities for everyone. It’s such a fun, school-wide activity!
For the first two years, we attended but mostly brought our own food. We also sampled what Zax had made in class. I saw some efforts to make the event allergy-friendly, but most fell short of the mark. For example, during Zax’s Kindergarten year, there were allergen cards by many of the dishes, but most of them weren’t filled out. I remember looking at these, wondering whether a card with no allergens circled meant it didn’t contain any, or if the person who brought the dish simply hadn’t filled it out. Plus, the whole event was ripe for cross contamination. The boys and I mostly ate my own soup and Zax’s class applesauce that night. And then, the allergen cards were completely gone by the next year.
Getting involved in the Harvest Festival
It was our third year, when Zax was in 2nd Grade and Kal in Kindergarten, that I got involved. I couldn’t make the whole event allergy-friendly, of course, but I made it my pet project to host an allergy-friendly table. I wanted to bring together the foods that were free of the top 8 allergens, and make sure that people with allergies knew where to go. And that’s what I did!