Feeding the Hungry (and Allergic)

To the mom who was so apologetic about mentioning her daughter’s dairy allergy to me at dinner the other day:

Do not feel as if it is an imposition on me to tell me what I need to know in order to safely feed your daughter.

With a bit of advance notice and an opportunity to bounce ideas around with you, I can come up with safe alternatives. I don’t want you to have to feel like you need to send “special food” with her wherever she goes. (Or, at the very least, when she comes to dinner with us.)

tomato pieIt is both a corporal AND spiritual work of mercy to honor someone’s medical dietary needs.

The corporal part is obvious. I think the spiritual part falls under the category of “comforting the sorrowful.”

When your child has special dietary needs, it’s tough on parents. By comparison, I have it “easy” with a diabetic. We just need nutrition labels and insulin. It’s not that he can’t have something.

I get a lot of “what can he have?” from people who don’t know how diabetes works. That is an opportunity to gently educate (“instruct the ignorant” in a way). I do know that the people who ask me this question are acting on a generous impulse, and I appreciate it. I appreciate even more when they ask first, rather than investing in expensive special foods like sugar-free candies, which are much less diabetic-friendly than people think.

So when I ask what your child can have, I intend to provide that. She’s singled out enough. You have to bring special food for her most, if not all, of the time. I wouldn’t offer to find something that works for her if I wouldn’t gladly do it. I am happy to find a way for her to enjoy the meal that all her friends will be sharing.

(And don’t worry–I left out the Parmesan on the tomato pie.)

7 thoughts on “Feeding the Hungry (and Allergic)

  1. Reblogged this on Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, OP and commented:
    I’ve had customers at my job eat peanuts in front of me and then complain to HR when I politely excused myself. I’ve had a close relative serve me tree nuts on my birthday–twice. As someone with a life-threatening allergy, I openly admit that Franciscan Mom’s compassion in this piece brought me to tears. I so often face near-mortal indifference to my allergy that when someone puts compassion for this situation into words, it means a lot. Thank you, Franciscan Mom.

  2. I am unable to eat wheat, milk, and bananas, and my children are very prone to food allergies and intolerances. Thank you so much for being so compassionate and caring. 🙂

  3. After I read Erin’s comment, I realized that this mom must have had similar bad experiences in the past. I hate that such a thing would happen. Maybe I’m naive, but I can’t imagine how someone could do that! That idea brings ME to tears. All the parents who are helping feed the high-school students this week agree–it is not a problem to work with a parent to make sure a child has safe food. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. You are the best – most volunteer moms would have just let this child fend for herself. You rock. And that’s why HCHS needs great moms like you.

    • Ellen, really, none of us who are working at the dinners this year want this student to have to fend for herself. As soon as we found out about her allergy, moms started asking this girl’s mom about safe brands of foods and what “hidden dairy” ingredients we should look for. They started putting visible labels on desserts that contained nuts, eggs, and dairy (other kids have allergies too). This whole group of volunteers rocks and I am happy to be part of it.

  5. You all rock – having been peanut allergic all my life (more than 50 years), I can’t tell you how grateful I would have been for those labels in high school! (Or even now…)

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