Our cooking club has rules that protect allergic kids from danger. We use recipes that are allergy free and we use safe equipment in a safe environment.
Our club has a very strict policy on equipment. It must be purchased exclusively for the club and put in safe storage when not in use by the club. All equipment used at club meetings is portable and is meant to be used in rooms that are not used for food preparation.
When forming a local club you will have parents and caregivers who have different experiences and some may be more knowledgeable than others about food safety.
Our FOOD ALLERGY SHOPPING GUIDE gives a good overall idea of food allergies and food intolerances, and serves as a good food allergy guide for people suffering from wheat, corn, dairy, soy, gluten, egg, fish, shellfish, peanut, and tree nut allergies. This book includes a thorough listing of food derivatives that must be avoided.
This is why our club requires that new chapters hold an organizational meeting with parents prior to starting their clubs and introducing any recipes for kids. Parents can take the opportunity to discuss their concerns and vote for or volunteer for specific positions in the club.
We BelieveFood purchasing is a critically important job that can't be taken lightly, especially for children with anaphylaxis. Depending on the severity of the child's condition, there are instances when foods that are produced on shared equipment with allergens are too dangerous to be used. You need to be aware of this problem and your food purchaser needs to be diligent at label reading and product purchasing. As educated facilitators you can certainly use the tools provided and for some of you, personal experience and expertise, to make good decisions for the club.
Your local Sous Club Chapter can organize food purchasing guidelines to suit your individual club's needs and preferences. Here are a few food purchasing methods you can use: Chapter clubs can create a rule making each Sous Club kid responsible for bringing all the required ingredients to each meeting for his or her recipe. This method works best when there is little or no money in the budget for food and supplies. You may need to use this method for the first few meetings. If your chapter likes it, you may want to keep this method.
Chapter clubs can elect a person to be responsible for food purchasing for the year. This person would purchase food each month and then divide the total by the number of Sous Club kids. Each family would pay the divided amount to the volunteer food purchaser at that month’s meeting. The volunteer food purchaser and the club would have to come up with an agreement on how much money should be spent every month on food per child. The purchaser should work hard not to go over that amount.
Chapter clubs can hold a fundraiser and use funds to pay for food and supplies as needed during the course of the year. If your club wants to use these guidelines you can choose to rotate your food purchasers each month. In a club with 12 kids this would mean that each family would be responsible for buying the food once a year. Families would then turn in their receipt to the chapter treasurer for reimbursement.
The chapter president can ask parents to pay an annual fee for food that would be given to the treasurer. Each month the volunteer food purchaser would be given a budgeted amount of money to shop with. Extra money not spent would go back into the fund for the next meeting. Any money left over at the end of the year can be used for party favors or additional food for a final party with the group. All money should be spent by the end of the year.
Although it is rare, some clubs may find themselves dealing with additional allergies or food intolerances among their particular group. In cases where a designated recipe contains an allergen for one of your participates please use the forum board on our website to trouble shoot possible solutions publicly. We ask that you do this for two reasons. First of all, it will help all our chapters, present and future, if the problems and solutions are properly recorded and publicly available. This will also help us as we choose new recipes in future curricula for the kids. We may discover additional common allergens and intolerances among club members that are best avoided. For example, a core group of kids may be avoiding artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives as part of the Feingold or Failsafe programs to manage ADHD naturally. This may mean that some kids, although a very small percentage, may be sensitive to apples and other foods high in salicylates. But we will cross that bridge if and when the time comes individually, and as an organization if need be.As an organization it will be impossible to provide recipes that every child in the program will be able to eat nationwide. For this reason we do anticipate instances where facilitators will have to alter core recipes for a particular club. For example, one club may find a child with a chocolate allergy and decide that their dairy-free chocolate pudding must be made as a ‘banana pudding’ instead.In the future we hope to install a recipe database that will further assist members in finding alternatives as the need arises. We appreciate our charter club volunteers and their efforts in helping to forge the way in our initial year of operation."From time to time we will conduct polls on our website to track how this process is going and whether or not users are finding adequate solutions to special dietary needs of individual kids.