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Managing Food Allergies & Diet Restrictions

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In the Forbidden Fruit thread the issue of food allergies and restrictions came up. This got me wondering:
 
How do you deal with scouts with food or dietary restrictions in your menu/cooking process?

 

In my unit we have found a few issues:

  1. Scouts that have religious food restrictions, usually to beef and/or pork. This is usually solved by simply substituting chicken as the protein. We don't have any strict vegetarians yet (except one adult) so we haven't needed to address that. If that were to happen we would work with the patrol (and the affected scout's family) to find recipes that were vegetarian to which a protein could be added for the rest of the patrol.
     
  2. Scouts that have allergies to one food (usually peanuts, dairy or shellfish). To manage this we make sure that the patrols all know what the menu restriction is. We encourage them to check the labels of all packages they buy for any indication that the food they are buying was processed in a facility with peanuts. We also work with the affected scout's family to get a list of brand name foods which they usually; this makes it easier on the grub master.
     
  3. We work with the scouts on their cooking process. For example, if you have a Jewish scout you don't go cooking the eggs in the same pan you just cooked the smoked pork bacon.

These are the most common issues we have run in to. Anyone run in to any others? If so, how do you address them?

 

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On the rare occasion where this is an issue, the PL makes sure there are two menus prepared.  It's all part of the PL leadership requirement of taking care of his boys.  If the boy doesn't like or can't have bacon with his bacon and eggs, the GrubMaster (also doing his leadership requirement of taking care of his boys) will make sure the boy receives his eggs separate to scramble separately.   Mountain Man breakfast CAN be made without any meat in it as well, so some recipe modifications can be worked out as well.  For the most part, boys with allergies tend to want to bring their own food and eventually do very well with mess kit cooking techniques.  That of course is their call.  The PL and GM are responsible for not forcing a boy to feel "singled out" because of his dietary situation.

 

There really are some nice lessons to learn from having boys with dietary concerns.  It increases the diversity of menu options, it gets the boys thinking seriously about the food being purchased, and different techniques of meal prep are implemented.  I for one have never seen food allergies or dietary concerns as a negative thing.

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There really are some nice lessons to learn from having boys with dietary concerns.  It increases the diversity of menu options, it gets the boys thinking seriously about the food being purchased, and different techniques of meal prep are implemented.  I for one have never seen food allergies or dietary concerns as a negative thing.

 

Due to a company that has relocated to my neck of the woods we have an influx of Asian folk. This has lead to an increased need to be more open in our menus, so this issue comes up a lot.

 

I will say this, the "I don't like [insert food here]" argument does not hold water with my guys. They plan for the majority and the picky eaters can eat around it. Dietary, religious or allergy excuses are a different story. Being a picky eaters is a choice.

 

True Story: Had a scout who didn't like tomatoes but it was situational; liked it on spaghetti (n sauce) but didn't like pizza (on top or on sauce), liked them in salads (raw) but didn't like them on sandwiches. It was silly. His patrol had DO pizza one night. Since he hated pizza sauce (but again, liked spaghetti sauce) he did not eat that night. After campfire and lights out he went to bed....hungry. About an hour later one could hear a rather large mammal working it's way about one camp site. This mammal manage to open the DO and proceeded to eat the leftover DO pizza. The full moon that night illuminated the mammal pretty well. It was the aforementioned scout, hunched over eating the cold, burnt DO pizza. ;)

 

Over the next few months he went from picky eater to eater of everything. Problem solved. ;)

Edited by Mozartbrau

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In the Forbidden Fruit thread the issue of food allergies and restrictions came up. This got me wondering:
 
How do you deal with scouts with food or dietary restrictions in your menu/cooking process?

 

In my unit we have found a few issues:

  1. Scouts that have religious food restrictions, usually to beef and/or pork. This is usually solved by simply substituting chicken as the protein. We don't have any strict vegetarians yet (except one adult) so we haven't needed to address that. If that were to happen we would work with the patrol (and the affected scout's family) to find recipes that were vegetarian to which a protein could be added for the rest of the patrol.

     

  2. Scouts that have allergies to one food (usually peanuts, dairy or shellfish). To manage this we make sure that the patrols all know what the menu restriction is. We encourage them to check the labels of all packages they buy for any indication that the food they are buying was processed in a facility with peanuts. We also work with the affected scout's family to get a list of brand name foods which they usually; this makes it easier on the grub master.

     

  3. We work with the scouts on their cooking process. For example, if you have a Jewish scout you don't go cooking the eggs in the same pan you just cooked the smoked pork bacon.

These are the most common issues we have run in to. Anyone run in to any others? If so, how do you address them?

 

 

 

We've only run into #2 of the above list.  The boys are pretty good about watching out for the one boy we have who is allergic to tree nuts (major) and peanuts (minor).

 

We also have an issue with an Asperger's boy who has a very limited diet due to texture/dislike of mixed food.  His mom packs him enough protein bars to survive, and he seems happy enough with that idea. He still is expected to take his turn cooking/cleaning. 

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It's a bit like the little kid that hated anything with a sauce on it.  On the other hand she loved frosting.  So when it came time for spaghetti supper.  Everyone at the table got spaghetti sauce with meatballs except the little girl.  She got spaghetti frosting with meatballs and she loved it.

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My son has multiple food allergies (egg, dairy and tree nut).

We pruchased him his own cooking and cleaning equipment. 

We get the patrol menu and make him a menu that is as close as possible to the patrol menu.

We provide all of his food and he cooks it all himself.

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Mountain Man breakfast CAN be made without any meat in it as well, so some recipe modifications can be worked out as well.  For the most part, boys with allergies tend to want to bring their own food and eventually do very well with mess kit cooking techniques.  That of course is their call.  The PL and GM are responsible for not forcing a boy to feel "singled out" because of his dietary situation.

 

There really are some nice lessons to learn from having boys with dietary concerns.  It increases the diversity of menu options, it gets the boys thinking seriously about the food being purchased, and different techniques of meal prep are implemented.  I for one have never seen food allergies or dietary concerns as a negative thing.

 

You know you're a Scoutmaster when you make Mountain Man in the Dutch over for your family's Easter brunch.   :D  I am a vegetarian and I made a great Mountain Man w/o meet.  Loads of veggies, eggs, potatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese! :wub:

 

The only time something like this has been an issue for our Troop is a young Scout who will only eat bread from a local sub sandwich shop. So if the Patrol decides on sandwiches for a meal this Scout brings sub rolls for the gang.  

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Like it says, adults do not have to take responsibility for scouts with food allergies.

 

Well, I'm one of those that won't.  Sounds kinda harsh, but I as SM bring my own food and take responsibility for feeding myself.  All the boys know this and if someone has dietary/health concerns, they simply can do what I do.  Take responsibility for feeding themselves. Harsh?  Nope, these boys do this dietary routine every time they eat, when they are at home, at restaurants, at school, out with friends, etc.  Why would Scouting need to take over that responsibility when no one else does except maybe the parents who are teaching them how to cope with this?  So they feel a little left out.  Well, when the go to the pizza joint and hang out with their buddies, they're going to be a little left out anyway.  They understand this and so does his buddies.

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Makes you wonder, in the "old days" did these kids just not join Scouts? Or has this whole issue just become more endemic?

Food allergies are more common than they once were.  Not so sure about the picky eaters. 

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Food allergies are more common than they once were.  Not so sure about the picky eaters. 

 

I think the eating habits of people have gone a long ways to instigate both the allergies as well as the picky eaters.

 

It was a number of years ago now but within a family of Mom/Dad and 2 daughters, one daughter was anorexic and she was basically a walking skeleton to the point where she ended up in the hospital and spent many years in counseling.  The other daughter was way over weight and would only come to someone's birthday overnighter if the menu consisted of pizza and ice cream. 

 

In scouting we insist on balanced foods that are prepped basically from scratch.  Occasionally we'll slip in some Bisquick, cake mixes and things like that.  But when these kids are at home they are eating highly processed foods instead of home cooked meals. All the major grocery stores in our area have at least 1 FULL aisle of nothing but frozen pizzas.  There is more display room given to pizzas than to the meat departments.  At least the produce departments are getting better.  But if one has some time go stand around the check outs at places like Walmart and grocery stores and see what these boys are getting for meals in a household of both parents working.  This is a good place to start to understand why the boys only want burgers and chicken nuggets.

 

Our society is the best fed, malnourished country in the world.  The volume of empty nutrient foods kids consume is staggering.  Even the school lunch programs are not decent learning opportunities for the kids.  

 

Give an infant a pickle and they'll go for it every time.  Wait 10 years and try it again and they won't touch it with a 10' pole.

 

The human body is not capable to maintaining this pace for very much longer.  We're seeing the affects of this in the allergies and strange eating patterns of our youth today.

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Due to a company that has relocated to my neck of the woods we have an influx of Asian folk. This has lead to an increased need to be more open in our menus, so this issue comes up a lot.

 

I will say this, the "I don't like [insert food here]" argument does not hold water with my guys. They plan for the majority and the picky eaters can eat around it. Dietary, religious or allergy excuses are a different story. Being a picky eaters is a choice.

 

True Story: Had a scout who didn't like tomatoes but it was situational; liked it on spaghetti (n sauce) but didn't like pizza (on top or on sauce), liked them in salads (raw) but didn't like them on sandwiches. It was silly. His patrol had DO pizza one night. Since he hated pizza sauce (but again, liked spaghetti sauce) he did not eat that night. After campfire and lights out he went to bed....hungry. About an hour later one could hear a rather large mammal working it's way about one camp site. This mammal manage to open the DO and proceeded to eat the leftover DO pizza. The full moon that night illuminated the mammal pretty well. It was the aforementioned scout, hunched over eating the cold, burnt DO pizza. ;)

 

Over the next few months he went from picky eater to eater of everything. Problem solved. ;)

 

My Ex used to get bent all out of shape when I went to the store and came back with a new dog food that was cheaper.  Heck, we had a Collie/Shepherd and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever that both ate like 15 year old boys.  She would say that the dogs wouldn't eat it.  But after a couple of days of not having to fill the bowls, things always would get back to normal.  Works for boys the same way.  :)  When they get hungry, basic survival skills set in and they'll eat the bark off of trees if they have to.  :) 

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We have the peanut allergy I mentioned in the other thread.  I paid close attention to this early on as he had a very bad experience at Camporee one year while in Cub Scouts.  Luckily, the Scout is older now, and is well capable of knowing what he can and can't eat.  He's also a PL :D so he's keeping a double eye on that.

 

We have also picked up a gluten allergy in a young Scout, who unfortunately loves gluten and has to be watched.   We have another Scout for whom the "no gluten" thing appears to be a choice only.

 

We have just also picked up a vegetarian in the NSP.  Good training for that group to plan around everyone's needs.

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There are really two teaching opportunities here.  One is for scouts to learn to (as Stosh says) take care of each other.  The other is for scouts with dietary restrictions or allergies to learn to take care of themselves.  

 

Most of the religious restrictions on food can be handled by a vegitarian menu.  Both Jewish (Kosher), Hindu and Islamic (Halal) can be met this way.  The easy solution (as mentioned above) is to cook the meat separately and those interested can add it to their plate.  The key is making sure there are sources of protein for those boys.  Vegan is a little bit harder.  However, one of our ASM's brought some tofu sausages for breakfast on the last campout and they were great!

 

Maybe, in terms of allergies, there is a third teachable moment here about having the scouts to be aware of what they are putting in their bodies by looking at ingredients.  My favorite part of working with scouts on the cooking merit badge is having them try to pronounce and then research all of the ingredients of some foods.

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