Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celiac School Frustrations

I'm having an emotional day and feeling a bit beat-up as I advocate for my little guy to be included in school activities.  For a better perspective on my feelings and frustrations, please read my blog post C.D. versus the Nut Free Classroom, and School Birthday Parties.
Since my son and husband were diagnosed with Celiac Disease about a year ago, I've embraced the gluten-free lifestyle whole-heartedly.  And I've worked hard to educate our small local elementary school about his needs and restrictions.  Last school year(his 1st as a diagnosed Celiac) was particularly challenging.  Out of necessity I became an advocate for my little guy, which in turn led to my desire to create this blog.  Unfortunately, his elementary school(K-5, 400 students) was neither understanding nor accommodating of his dietary needs and restrictions.
Last night around 8 pm I received a mass email from our school notifying families that the following day during lunch(our school has no cafeteria) students would be served pasta with pesto in their classrooms.  The email went on to explain that this was the culmination of a farm-to-table project as the children had grown basil in the school greenhouse.  The email also stated that gluten-free pasta would be served for those with dietary restrictions and named the small local cafe that would be preparing the meal.  Keep in mind, that out of necessity, I secured a 504 Plan for my little guy at the end of the previous school year, and he is the only g-free kid in his school.  So, I understood that the statement was there for our family.  Hooray! Right?  Not so fast.  I know the local cafe preparing the meal very well and am often a patron.  I also know that their kitchen space is very tight, they have about 5 employees, and the thought of them being able to prepare 500 cups of pasta without the gluten-free pasta being cross contaminated somewhere along the way...clean pot?  fresh water?  dedicated colander?  sterilized utensils?  my son receiving the correct dish?... Waaay to risky.  Waaay too many opportunities for cross contamination.  But, it was 8pm and both the cafe and school were closed.   Luckily, I didn't have to be at work until the following afternoon.
So, I called the cafe early in the morning to ask about their procedures, and to see if I could stop in and pick up some pesto to make my little guy his own dish.  They indicated that they were not asked to make gluten-free pasta, did not have gluten free pasta, and had used all of the pesto!  Exasperating!  So, I called the school, but of course had to leave a message for the assistant principal.  I received a call back from the science teacher who had put the event together.  A truly lovely teacher, whom I respect and I respect her efforts to bring the farm-to-table movement to her students.  It turns out, she had cooked gf pasta for my little guy at home and was bringing it in for him!! Ugh.  Such confusion and concern that could have been avoided with better communication.  In the end, I cooked and brought in his pasta, the science teacher stirred in the pesto she had saved for him, and I got to stay and have lunch with my little guy at school.
Feeling slightly emotionally drained, but tomorrow is a new beginning.

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