A Response to Carina Hoskisson

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A friend linked me to this article over on HuffPo today, and as I read it, I started doing a slow shake of the head out of pure disbelief. Throughout the article, the writer argues why she and her children should not suffer simply because kids have food allergies. Some excerpts:

“Let me get this straight: I’m supposed to feed my kids processed, preservative-laden food because your kid has a wheat allergy? No. I don’t want to. I want my kid to have the made-from-scratch cupcakes, the ones made with fresh butter, sugar and yes, real flour with real gluten in it…Sometimes your kid with allergies can’t eat my kid’s birthday cake. Let’s stop the allergy insanity, and let the rest of them eat cake — the lovely, homemade, buttery, gluten-stuffed cake.”

cupcakes[photo credit]

*takes off earrings* Hey, Carina Hoskisson? Come sit by me and we can have a little chat.

I understand – very well – that dealing with food allergies is a total pain in the ass. But there are alternatives to writing a snarky article about how you can’t be bothered to deal with a child’s medical concerns.

– You could see an allergy for what it is, which is a medical condition. If the school dance has to forgo using strobe lights because there are a handful of kids prone to epilepsy, how many parents go “Just make those kids stay home!”? None. At least, no sane parents. When it comes to any sort of condition, whether it’s a physical disability or autism or something else, parents and teachers are always willing to make arrangements for those children to be accommodated. Can we not – I mean, is it TOO INSANE to ask this of you, Carina Hoskisson? – extend that to children who also suffer from food allergies?

Listen, I don’t need you to teach my kid that she’s going to feel left out once in awhile. They already know that. They experience it often out of school. Maybe you could leave the parenting to me, and you can just think of buying allergen-free snacks (UGH omg so inconvenient, I might as well build a rocket and fly to the moon while I’m at it) as an exercise in compassion for you and your kids. [And I’ve got a list of allergen-free treats for you right here.]

– You could rally for school parties that don’t require snacks. One of my friend’s teachers declared: “No parties with sugar. I want the children to learn that we can celebrate without junk food. Parties will be learning experiences. We will work on a jigsaw puzzle or do a science experiment or learn a new board game.” Pretty cool alternative. I’d vote for this any day of the week.

– For the food-allergy parents like myself, here’s what I do. At the beginning of the school year, I ask teachers to give me a couple days notice when there’s a birthday party celebration. We whip up a batch of allergen-free cupcakes and freeze them. When there’s a birthday party, we send our kids into school with an allergen-free cupcake, and they can celebrate with their friends.

You can have your regular cake at home, right, Carina? And be a little less self-involved? A little bit more compassionate? IDK, maybe.

Roo Ciambriello

If Scratch or Sniff founder/editor Roo Ciambriello could list all of her favorite things, they’d include her sweet little family, food trucks, and every AMA Snoop Dogg has done on Reddit. Roo is a copywriter out of New Haven, Connecticut, and loves writing fun stories on the backs of potato chip bags and cereal boxes in Whole Foods, Target, Nordstrom, Kroger, y mucho mas. Roo creates voices for brands, ghostwrites for celebrities, writes a personal website, and is (much to the chagrin of those around her) pretty active on Twitter. You can also find her providing commentary on advertising/branding at Adweek and eating fajitas on deadline days.

129 Comments to A Response to Carina Hoskisson

  1. *takes off earrings* – Roo… I love you. Seriously. You bring out the humor in an otherwise humorless conversation. Thank you for your grace and humility. My friend’s son has horrible allergic reactions to random things that he’s “not allergic to” and the doctors still cannot definitively diagnose his issue. I pray every day for Courtney and her little 1 year old. I cannot imagine what it must be like to watch your child suffer like that. Parent’s like this lady obviously lacks empathy. God forbid her child develops an allergy then she’ll be singing a different tune.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Thanks, girl! Love you back!

  2. Amelinda

    I totally agree. My kids don’t have allergies, but I think some people need to learn some tolerance. The whole time I was reading her post I was thinking to myself….can’t your child enjoy that homemade, buttery, gluten-stuffed cake at home? When I send our kids to school with birthday treats, that certainly doesn’t count as a birthday celebration to me! The real celebration is when they get home. If your kid is going to enjoy amazing birthday cupcakes at home, why not send them to school with a delicious fruit tray if you’re so against fruit snacks for a treat. They make those with all natural-ingredients too.

    And if the party is at YOUR house, then of course any parents with children with allergies would be prepared, but it wouldn’t hurt to have something laying around that they could eat. Like fruit.

    Ugh. just Ugh.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Great comment, Amelinda. Good idea on the fruit trays. My kids love those things. :)

  3. Katy

    Amen. Why does this lady feel the need to be so angry at little children who have no control over their food allergies? If this is the most important problem she feels like she needs to complain about, perhaps she should re-evaluate things…

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Yeah, not eating full-butter cake at school is kind of a first world problem.

  4. Love it! After I read Hoskisson’s article this morning, I immediately thought of you. I knew that allergies were more common this day and age, but I’ve learned so much about why they occur, how to handle them and what a pain it is to deal with them on a day-to-day basis from reading your blog. It’s so sad that people can be so narrow minded! I just feel like her article was SO rude — what’s wrong with making your cake at home? Your kid can’t have a birthday AT ALL if they don’t bring cupcakes to school? Well, that means I never ever had a birthday because my birthday is Christmas Day and I haven’t been in school on my birthday ever in my life.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Girl, that’s some on-point logic right there. Summer birthday kids, too. I mean, sheesh.

  5. Aubry

    As a parent, most of my decisions about how to treat other people’s children is based in how I would want my kids to be treated. My kids don’t have allergies, but if they did I would hope that other parents would be understanding and respectful.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Same, and that’s a good reminder for me to be cognizant of health concerns that other children have that mine don’t. Thanks, Aubry!

  6. Aubry

    And gosh, I wish could edit the typos I’m my last post. Oh well!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Bahhhh it’s just the internet. :)

  7. Ali

    The article that lady wrote is so infuriating. And some of the people’s comments are so ignorant. I think it’s ridiculous that people are really going to whine about not bringing cupcakes in for their kids. Don’t these people know they can throw birthday celebrations at their home and make a regular cake? My son has tree nut allergies, and honestly, I think my son’s safety is more important that some kids bringing cupcakes in. Ugh, some people!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I had to stop reading the comments, because I seriously thought I was going to Hulk out. I’m hoping we all make progress as a society (I mention in a post below that I’m feeling delayed compassion for people who were in the thick of raising autistic children ten years ago, before our society really got an idea for what that actually means).

  8. Why is food such a controversial topic in parenting? I think sometimes people feel intimidated by other people’s food choices, as if there is a feeling of superiority over who eats what. It’s crazy. Allergies obviously carry some serious danger for kids, but what if it simply is your choice not to feed your child those things? As a parent, isn’t that a right? We have a son (1st grade) who has struggled with learning/paying attention, and based on the recommendation of his developmentalist (an MD at a world renowned medical institution) we put him on the Feingold diet (eliminates preservatives, food dyes, artificial flavors, etc). Guess what? It’s worked wonders for him paying attention and lessened his frustration with learning. But in the last few months, I cannot tell you how many fruit loops, skittles, and swedish fish he’s been given by well meaning teachers and students. I’m fortunate because those things won’t kill him, but it may make him have a shitty day. I think the bigger question is, why are we unhealthy foods as a means of encouragement and celebration?

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Agreed, Lauren. You bring up a lot of good points. We’re lucky that Sophie’s preschool doesn’t even allow treats like that in a lunch bag. Seems a little harsh at first, but in the end, all of these little ones are eating together and watching each other each healthy food. Smart. :)

  9. Andrea

    Public schools are just that, public. The curriculum is made for everyone in the classroom and so it’s not unreasonable that snacks follow the same rule. If it’s not safe for everyone, then enjoy it at home. Cause really, how are you going to expect a class of 25 1st graders to make sure that the contents of their allergen filled cupcake stays away from those it may harm? It’s just not worth it.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      For real. You just need one kid with peanut butter on his hands to touch another kid for an ER trip to happen.

  10. Mandi

    I just can’t get over that she thinks it’s okay to not be careful around kids with allergies if they won’t instantly die of a reaction. So if my kid (I don’t even have kids) breaks out in hives all over, or starts wheezing because she came into contact with one of your snacks, that’s totally cool. She’ll live. Send her to the nurse.

    I don’t know much about allergies, but don’t reactions get worse the more often they happen? The lack of concern in our society baffles me. If it was her own child, she wouldn’t be saying these things.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      You’re actually totally right. They can get worse, which is just super scary to me.

  11. Anyone who utters, “Let them eat cake,” without a sense of irony is self-involved to the point of implosion.

    You’re so awesome, Roo. Your response is elegantly done. Major kudos to you! The fact that so many people continue to disregard the true dangers of food allergies makes me both alarmed and incredibly saddened.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hahaha, yes TOTALLY to that first line. My first reaction was absolutely “Do you know the origin of this statement, because….”

    • Lindsay

      “self-involved to the point of implosion”.. pure poetry and all too often the case in parenting, politics, money, etc… you name it and some people can’t see past their own cupcakes. It’s only getting worse.

  12. I’m with you on the food allergy issue. Two of my boys are allergic to peanuts and I’m pretty hyper-aware of school parties and gatherings. Luckily, they are both picky and suspicious of homemade foods. You know you’re an allergy mom when you see these as good qualities!

    I have to part ways with you on this, though: “You could rally for school parties that don’t require snacks. One of my friend’s teachers declared: “No parties with sugar. I want the children to learn that we can celebrate without junk food. Parties will be learning experiences. We will work on a jigsaw puzzle or do a science experiment or learn a new board game.” Pretty cool alternative. I’d vote for this any day of the week.”

    Naw, parties should be decidedly NOT learning experiences if you can help it. They should just be a fun fun fun bubbly drinks up your nose sort of thing. Kids today are subjected to a belief every moment should be Worthwhile and crammed with Grand Lessons. Nope, sometimes, they just need a pointless hour of noshing, free play, and dancing—even at school.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Oooh, I hear you. I think it was sort of implied that the parties would be fun, you know? I’m all for parties sans sugar. With birthdays and every holiday that kids celebrate at school (100th day of school! Dr. Seuss day!), I feel like they could all stand to cut back on the cupcake intake, you know?

    • Jennifer Bailey

      While I agree that parties should be nothing but fun…and don’t have to be educational. They shouldn’t always feel that they should be fed and watered at each event either. Not all celebrations should be surrounded with food.

      Not directed to the above comment, but rather the original posters post:
      Even that being said, I have a daughter who is lactose intolerant. Yes, I know….barely an allergy at all really. But it has left her out of a few things in the beginning of her issue when she was first diagnosed. I can clearly remember a teacher at a moms group who brought in ice cream as a treat after full well knowing my daughters diagnosis. My daughter was alienated at the age of 4. It is sad to think that people are that cruel, but they are! Not even 9 months after that diagnosis, my daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer. She took chemotherapies over the course of 5 years, on and off. (diagnosis, chemo…then 3 relapses, and chemo after each of them) Some of her medications she took required her not to eat certain foods, as they reacted negatively with the medications she was on. We continued on with our battle of educating those around us, with many the eye roll! It is always a battle to keep our kids safe….and it is really sad to see so many parent’s of “normal” kids be so uncompassionate with our struggles. I don’t think any of us moms in these situations expect others to “change”….or “give up” their own special things. But being notified when special events that involve food, that is a threat to our kids, is taking place, would be a nice gesture! At least give US the opportunity to help our kids through it! Let US have the opportunity to add to the celebration by letting our kids participate and not feel left out….yet again…. My daughter, like SO many others, knows what she can and can’t have. She is a wonderful advocate for herself. But…she’s still a kid! I’m still her mother….I still have to advocate for her too, and obviously PROTECT her from anything I see not fit for her. Thank you for posting this and advocating for kids with medical issues. I pray for those who have “normal” kids and their lack of compassion for kids like ours.

  13. Just to quote one part: The Giorgis said one of the many reasons they are sharing Natalie’s story is to convince skeptical parents that food allergies in children is very real.

    “We had denied our daughter birthday treats in the classrooms. We read every food label looking for peanuts. This is not helicopter parenting. This was us trying to keep our children alive,” Joanne Giorgi said.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Seriously, that just makes me want to lie down and sob. Good grief. Those poor parents.

  14. Wow I just.

    Wow.

    Can I just?

    Wow.

    Yo Roo, let me know if you ever figure out how to piece your head back together after its explosion because I’m straight struggling over here.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Did she just? She did.

      My brain is still like, “but for real tho?”

  15. Chelsea

    Hi all!
    I am not one to normally comment but I felt something needed to be said here. While Corinna did appear more angry then caring in her article I do see her point.
    1. I do not have children yet, so obviously I will not fully understand for a few years but this is something I am already quite passionate about.
    2. I plan on raising my children as organic as possible. I believe in the wonders of Veggies and Fruits and Animals just the way God created them.
    3. The above belief brings me to what I want to say. If I was in Corinna’s shoes I would be very concerned for my own children because the processed food in store bought packages (even allergy free ones) can often have toxic properties. By home-making the food my family eats I will insure that my kids have the nutrition I believe is needed. Their diet will be such that eating those pre-packaged items could make them very ill. I know this from my own experiences and that of my family members. The preservatives, dyes and over processing of these products are very harmful and that is magnified when they are foreign to one’s system.
    I do not believe Corinna’s point is to say that Children with Allergies should be exposed to those Allergies. I think she is pointing out that her own children are being exposed to something viewed as equally damaging. Perhaps if she was allowed to prepare an allergy friendly snack at home where she can control the quality of the products used (such a real organic butter and gluten free flour with applesauce as a substitute for eggs or coconut oil as a substitute for dairy, whatever the concern may be) then she would be more inclined to help in happiness instead of consternation.
    In conclusion I hope that someday soon the treats in school will be more towards the healthy end or even the game days mentioned in another comment. But I also hope it can be understood that over-processed food can be just as harmful as allergens.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Sure, I understand where you’re coming from, Chelsea, but there are even organic allergen-free snacks you can buy. I don’t want my kids eating Pop-Tarts all day long either, but there are other ways to address that with the school without the end result being that children are treated in the way she suggests treating them.

      • Chelsea

        Thank you for Responding Roo.
        I agree entirely. It just sounded to me that she may be at her wits end in some ways. I do not know her personally of course so I do not know the entire situation. But I hope because the women here do come from adversity they may understand her frustration.
        One side note: the pre-packaged products, especially organic ones, are often much more pricey then preparing the same treat at home with higher quality ingredients.

        • Melissa S.

          As someone who was dairy-free and had to do very limited soy for over a year for my nursing baby, I can say from experience, letting people bring homemade “allergy-free” foods won’t work. It won’t work because allergies are HARD to manage, and even very intelligent people I know just did. not. get. it. It took me awhile to get my brain around all of it. Situations that actually happened:

          A friend made me dairy-free cookies. Yay! She forgot that the chocolate chips had dairy. Her kids are gluten-free, so she has a bit of experience with labels.

          My MIL made smoked deer. But didn’t realize that the marinade she used contained both soy and dairy.

          Someone made me dairy-free cupcakes. And decorated them with buttercream icing.

          “Oh, goldfish crackers have dairy?”

          All of these people meant well. All of them took extra time and made an extra effort to try to work around my needs. But, they made mistakes. Thankfully in my situation, “all” that happened was that my baby screamed for hours, broke in a horrible diaper rash, and had nasty diapers for a week.

          For some children, it could be much worse.

          • Roo Ciambriello

            Oh, I totally relate. We went somewhere and I thought I could order the girls some smoothies. I very carefully asked (twice) if there was dairy in the smoothies. She emphatically said “NO, no dairy” over and over again. She hands me the smoothies, I look at them, and I’m like “Um, are you 100% sure that there’s no dairy in these?”

            “No.. but there’s yogurt.”

            Whaaaaaaat.

            • Melissa S.

              Ah! So frustrating. And sadly, typical.

      • Erin

        I know I’m hopping on this train super late, but Roo you kind of hit the nail on the head with your wording. “there are other ways to address [snacks, food allergies, other controversial parental requests, etc] with the school without the end result being that children are treated the way she suggests treating them.” I believe that sums up so much about how I feel on this whole subject. I feel like people get so caught up in the details of what kinds of foods they can bring, how it infringes on their “rights” and “where are we going to draw the line?” And in the midst of all of this they don’t realize that they are talking about ways to either A. include children with life threatening food allergies or B. purposefully exclude children with life threatening food allergies. When it comes down to it – these are kids and we are either showing them compassion for their disability or we are showing them…the opposite.

        Some people don’t even get the argument that we pose back to them about their cupcake not taking precedent over my child’s life…because they genuinely are trying to be heroes of their “rights” no matter the consequences. The funny thing is…I’ve not been able to find any law or amendment supporting a person’s right to feed their child a specific type of food in a public setting. And I’ve tried – with my lawyer husband – to pose many fictitious scenarios where it might actually be someone’s “right” under law to feed their child this specific food at school and the closest we could get to was due to a medical condition or religious belief. But for any of that to even happen, it would need to be shown (especially if a school is “free” of this food) that this is the ONLY food that they could eat to satisfy the condition or belief AND that this would HAVE to be done during school hours. Even then – the school would still be responsible for balancing this child’s need versus the accommodations and precautions for a child with a life threatening food allergy under section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. So simply put – no one should be throwing out the claim that it is their right to serve these foods or snacks. It’s just not a real thing. So that leaves maybe 2 other options. Complete lack of information, understanding, and therefore empathy on the seriousness of food allergies. Or just plain and purposeful discrimination. :(

  16. Kim

    The only thing that could make this post better is some GIF action ala “this is how I feel Friday”! Keep fighting the good fight Roo!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hahaha, I’ll save that for NF! Thanks, Kim!

  17. Chelsea

    Oops. So sorry for some of the spelling mistakes. :)
    Also, one more thing. I do have some exposure to people with allergies. I have had one roommate (lived with her for over two years) who has Celiac. My sister is allergic to eggs and synthetic material (her clothing has to be pure cotton or wool etc or she breaks out in hives). My mother is allergic to Pine, Hemp and most artificially scented products will make her ill. Not to mention animal dander, and dust. Her lungs are very weak from several bouts of pneumonia. Also, my fiance is sensitive to onions and has asthma and mild eczema.
    So my words are not coming from a misunderstanding of the seriousness of allergens, just concerns of a future Mama who hopes her kids will not come home sick from over-processed treats.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Sure, I understand. There are definitely alternatives that don’t require processed treats, and hopefully all of this conversation will make people more aware. Thanks for weighing in, Chelsea!

  18. Jodi T.

    Wow… Where we live, we aren’t allowed to bring cake or cupcakes to school for birthdays. We can send a pencil or stickers if we really wanted to… However, my question is, isn’t your kid going to have a birthday party at home complete with cake and whatever else? Shouldn’t that be enough? Who really wants their kids to be all sugared up during the school day, anyway? Certainly not the teachers and definitely not the parents!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      *clap clap clap clap*

      Yeah. All of that. :)

    • Cassie

      Our school district doesn’t allow parties because it distracts from learning time. I am certain that the allergies played a part in that as well. As a parent and as a future teacher, I’m glad! Personally, I don’t want kids all sugared up during the school day and I don’t want my kid coming home all hopped up on sugar.

  19. Nicole

    I hear ya, Roo. It’s ridiculous to think that some parents believe that a birthday cupcake in school is more important than the health of their child’s peers. However, I do see Corinna’s point about serving commercially prepared, processed food with a mile-long ingredient list as an alternative to homemade goods. That kind of junk is not good for any kid, and I work hard to keep it out of my kid’s diet.

    That said, why do we need to celebrate everything with food? A birthday celebration could mean a classroom game for the last 15 minutes of the day (mum ball anyone?), a read aloud led by the birthday boy/girl, or a fun craft. Even a tiny goody bag with stickers or something. And if we really do need to celebrate with food, why not a fruit or veggie tray (assuming no allergies to either)? I have zero problem with my daughter not getting to serve cupcakes on her birthday at school. We celebrate at home, and sometimes with a friend party. She’s not deprived in anyway. A classroom is part of a community, and it is our responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone in it, even if, heaven forbid, my non-allergic daughter has to wait until she’s home to eat a birthday cupcake.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Totally, Nicole. I love the idea of a fruit plate or a celebratory activity that doesn’t revolve around the act of eating a sugary snack.

  20. Ok, I get where she’s coming from, but let’s be real: processed foods eaten once in a while in moderation at a school party are in no way equally as harmful as a food with allergens in it. And while some parents may be very careful to use allergen-free ingredients and avoid cross-contamination in making a homemade treat, not all parents are, so that’s not really an option, either. Some parent could end up killing a kid from ignorance or carelessness.
    Also, if you have chosen a lifestyle in which eating a processed food will make your kid sick, please remember just that: you’ve chosen that lifestyle (a good one, but still chosen). Kids with allergies didn’t choose to have them and respecting that is not catering, it’s caring.
    I can be compassionless about some things, but this is not something to be compassionless about. Yes, it’s annoying. Parents with kids who have allergies agree with you there. But that doesn’t make it the end of the world.
    I had never encountered anyone with a severe allergy until my freshman year of college when a girl with a peanut allergy lived in my dorm, which kept us all from having peanut products in the dorm. Guess what? I didn’t die of the inconvenience and after a while I didn’t even feel inconvenienced by it.
    Be glad you have an excuse to spend 5 minutes in a grocery store picking up a treat instead of spending an hour making one! Now that’s convenience!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Great comment, Joy. Thanks for sharing! “I didn’t die of the inconvenience and after a while I didn’t even feel inconvenienced by it.” I love that. That situation could have easily made your dorm-mate feel isolated, but it sounds like she wasn’t. :)

  21. SL

    I think it’s ridiculous that Carina would suggest that how children are treated in a classroom should somehow mirror how she as an ADULT deals with her own food allergy. It’s one thing to take personal responsibility as an adult to bring your own food with you, or just decide not get upset when you can’t eat anything at your friends birthday party, it’s entirely different thing to ask CHILDREN who have to be in school (i.e. mandatory, not an optional party you could have rsvp’d no to if you didn’t want to deal with food issues) to sit idly by while their classmates eat cupcakes and not be upset about it. Yes, at some point they’ll have to deal with that disappointment, but the age where that would be appropriate is long after parents stop bringing in goodies for classroom celebrations.

    Also, I think it would be great to stop training our children that celebration = food. How many of us wish we didn’t have that equation drilled into our subconscious?

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I agree with the entirety of your comment, SL. The whole thing.

  22. The Atomic Mom

    Love your response to her. A friend pointed me to your blog post today, and thank you for writing it. I saw the OP back in January when it appeared on Today’s Mama. It infuriated me then and still does so. But, I have seen it posted on several allergy websites and the food allergy community is coming together on this.

    I just want to address one thing in a comment upthread by Chelsea …

    The reason the school asks people to supply store bought treats is that those treats have an ingredient label on them. A public school is required by law to accommodate everyone that comes thru its doors, and since food allergies fall under the ADA, they are legally required to provide a safe place for kids with food allergies. Food which is properly labeled is one way to make that accommodation.

    Also, not even everything that is commercially prepared is safe, due to cross contamination issues. When a food labels states, “Made on equipment that also processes: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, etc, etc, insert your allergen”, we food allergy folks also have to be wary. Sometimes a small dot of peanut butter, or a small crumb of bread, or a drop of milk will be enough to send someone into anaphylaxis. Schools cannot take that risk, because they can and will be sued, and really they can’t afford that. But we also know that no exposure is best. The very tragic death last year of Natalie Giogri is proof that even an epi-pen, or several epi-pens might not save you.

    Your home kitchen is also riddled with cross contamination, even if you buy a gluten free cookie mix or a nut free cake mix, unless you have cleared your house of allergens there is a risk of cross contamination if you made peanut butter cookies the day before on a cookie sheet, or used a spatula to scrape the bowl of a regular cake mix.

    As a food allergy parent, but also a public school teacher, I rack my brain when I hear about entitled people like Carina Hoskisson who believe in the notion that children are some how entitled to a class birthday party with food? When did we get to this point? When? There was exactly one kid in my classes growing up that ever brought treats to school for her birthday, she was the class mean girl and she let you know how special she was for bringing treats. I think we don’t need that in school, with all of the other issues kids face.

    But I also realize I am a Scrooge for wanting the end of parties in school, and it’s an uphill battle that most days I weary of fighting. So, as a compromise let’s push for non-food parties, games, sing-a-longs, crafts, etc. OrientalTrading,com has tons of fun and inexpensive trinkets that kids would love.

    Again, thank you for this excellent blog post. I appreciate other allergy parents and people out there as we continue to advocate for ourselves and our kids. It’s nice to know we’re not alone. Keep it up! :)

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hello! Thanks for finding me and thanks for weighing in. Yes, Natalie Giogri’s story simultaneously devastated me and frightened me. I would be all for non-food parties. Can we start a movement, please? Haha, thanks again!

  23. Missy

    Never has the phrase “Shut your cake hole” been so appropriate.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Says the baker. :)

  24. Tara

    Are all these moms really chomping at the bit to be able to bring cupcakes to their kids school on their birthday? I would honestly be happy to not have to do that extra work! I don’t have kids with allergies, but I totally support schools going out of their way to accommodate those that do as much as they can. My daughter doesn’t have any kids with allergies in her pre-k class, but their whole school is nut-free. It’s mildly inconvenient at times that I can’t just send a pb&j or some nuts for her snack, but it’s for a good reason!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hahaha, Tara, I agree. We’re having a birthday party at home; I have to bake cupcakes twice? Ha! When my daughter’s school when nut-free, I considered bringing in jars of sunflower seed butter for people to try as a replacement. Maybe give it a shot? :)

  25. Lauren

    I totally agree with you, Roo, and that Carina seemed snarky (and also rude, uninformed, and uncaring, I might add). However, your article was pretty snarky as well. I know your girls struggle with food allergies, which must be so difficult in many ways. Many ways that a lot of people, including myself, will never fully understand because our children do not have allergies. However, I don’t think a snarky response was really needed. Just my thoughts. Perhaps if you had shared some of your personal experiences – how there have been ER trips, how you cannot even have peanut butter in your own home for risk of little hands getting to it – rather than criticizing her ignorance.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Oh, I don’t deny that this isn’t the cuddliest post I’ve ever written, and I’m totally okay with that. This isn’t a matter of ignorance; Carina herself has an egg-white allergy and referenced that she gets that allergies kill people. So, she’s not uninformed; she just doesn’t care. I linked to 1) our own allergy story and 2) a list of possible allergen-free foods, so I think I was able to educate while, yes, absolutely, criticizing the public dressing-down of the allergy community.

      • Lauren

        You’re right, its not ignorance because she has an allergy herself and referenced how she understands that allergies can be life-threatening. I’m just saying you didn’t have to stoop down to her level and get snarky. But I get that you have every right to be upset, considering your personal experience.

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Snarky’s such a harsh word. Passionate, sure. Angry, okay, I’ll take angry. I don’t really like being called snarky, though. I’m responding to an article that I thought was outrageous, especially for an actual grown-up. Here’s a great article by Jessica Cohen:

          http://www.eatsleepbe.com/2014/02/new-kind-bullying-classroom/

          Of course, you’re totally entitled to your opinion, for sure. (My own website ate my comment, so apologies if you’re getting this in your email twice, Lauren.)

          • Lauren

            I’ve been a fan of you and your writings for awhile (and I follow you on fb, twitter, and instagram), which is why I know more about your personal experience. I just feel like you’re putting a wall up, and definitely said some harsher comments, such as “UGH omg so inconvenient, I might as well build a rocket and fly to the moon while I’m at it.” I apologize if snarky is such a harsh word to you, to me it is a fitting description, but I did not mean it in a very harsh way.

            • Roo Ciambriello

              Yes, the rocket line… I’m okay with using satire in my writing for the sake of efficacy, and I think I accomplished that. No walls; just writing styles. :)

              • Hmm, I think knowing Roo’s writing style I didn’t take it as ‘snarky’ more like tongue firmly planted in cheek. But then I think ‘snark’ is kind of mean-spirited and I don’t see this post or Roo that way at all, so maybe that has something to do with it.

                • Roo Ciambriello

                  Thanks, Kelly. I agree that snark is kind of mean-spirited, and “tongue-in-cheek” was the phrase I was grasping for and completely missing.

      • Agreed, Roo. I wouldn’t say you’re being snarky. I’d say you’re at your witt’s end over this issue and are exhibiting that in this post. Your passion over this will hopefully work to help others understand the intensity of this issue. Also, some people just don’t listen unless you roll out the crazy on them. Wanna cuddle later? :)

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Hahaha hugs for everyone!

          And I’m also having delayed compassion for people who dealt with autism ten years ago. They probably experienced such trials and stigmas. I’m hoping in ten years, there will be greater empathy in regards to food allergies, too.

  26. Misty

    I think that article had to be click bait for Huffington Post. That woman is nuts.

    You put an 8-year-old in a room with a bunch of his friends and some cake, what’s he going to do? HE’S GOING TO EAT THE CAKE, allergies be damned, nine times out of 10. I guess those kids with nut allergies should just suck it up and plan to bring an epi pen, insurance papers and hospital authorization forms to any party they attend?

    I’m thankful that my child doesn’t have any known allergies, and I have no problem letting him eat cake or cookies or whatever, but I would NEVER put someone else’s child in danger for my child to enjoy his privilege of being allergy-free.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      My kids actually won’t touch anything unless they know for sure it’s mom-and-dad approved. But they’ve cried a couple of times when a parent promised allergen-free treats at a party, we showed up, none were to be found, and they had to watch other kids eat cake.

      Of course, I’ve learned my lesson since then, and we’ll often have to bake our own cupcakes or we skip out on the cake part altogether.

      • Misty

        Sounds like you have some awesome kiddos. I’m glad they understand the importance of listening to you about this.

        • Roo Ciambriello

          Aww, thanks, Misty. :) They’ve seen enough ERs to make them never want to touch an allergen, you know? Womp. :(

  27. OMG THANK YOU! I read this HP piece about an hour ago and my blood has been boiling ever since. You have so-much-more eloquently said everything and more that has been going through my head. My middle son had nut allergies and I helped write a policy this year with a few fellow mom/RNs for our school. We lost one of our 8th graders to an anaphylactic reaction from peanuts over the summer, so it has been a fairly easy transition. Children should not have to die for people like Carina to understand! I hope she reads your response and learns how crazy she sounds…all over food?!? She can have her homemade cake AT HOME! Education is the key and when ignorant people like Carina come out…we must educate.. So, once again… THANK YOU!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Oh my gosh, Selena, that is so, so sad. :( Yes, I totally hope that conversations like this one lead to greater empathy and understanding among parents!

  28. Jen

    PREACH.

    I just posted the HP link on my FB wall this afternoon because I couldn’t believe the straight up selfish ignorance going on there. It’s insane. The mommas with kids who have allergies responded very similarly to how you did here.

    What I don’t understand is why allergies seem to have this stigma attached to them as if it’s fake or over played or even a preference (like heeeeey I much prefer the chocolate icing, so keep that vanilla stuff away from me). That’s what I felt behind the whole piece. I find it very interesting (and alarming) that people are all about making arrangements around other special needs, but allergies are often not treated as a real problem–even though it can be a life or death situation.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Right. I think it might just take a little time for people to understand.

      “Oh, you can cheat and have dairy once in awhile, right?” reminds me of “What do you mean you’re depressed? Just cheer up!”

  29. Our public schools have a no food policy for parties. They do crafts and songs and movies, etc. My kids do not have food allergies but I am all for this rule! My youngest goes to a cooperative nursery school where it is all treats & cupcakes and junk all the time because the “working parent” gets to choose the snack of the day…and of course they try to choose things that will be “special”. The little boy with the allergies gets to sit at his assigned seat with a boring allergen free snack. I bring a giant bowl of blueberries. And guess what…every kid asks for seconds and I never come home with left overs! We need to re-define “special treat”!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I love that you bring blueberries! I’m going to start doing that, too. :) Thanks, Jess!

  30. Rebecca

    My daughter who is now in 2nd grade had a child in her class with a serious nut allergy last year. There was a note sent home asking parents to refrain from sending nut products in lunches and to clear any treats to be sent with the teacher. Guess what? My daughter not only survived the year, she learned a valuable lesson about thinking of others safety over her own preferences. She befriended the boy and when it was time for her birthday we contacted the Mom and got a terrific recipe for a totally safe cookie cake that she could share with ALL of her classmates. That was my daughter’s idea so that her friend would be included.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Aww, Rebecca, your daughter sounds wonderfully kindhearted. She must get it from her mom. :) I’m sure you brought a lot of happiness to that little boy and his mom.

  31. When you fight the good fight regarding your children and their health Every Day, then you have a right to be as “snarky” or sarcastic as you want. I go through the same thing with my diabetic son. Rock on sister!
    ~Sandy the Fearless Scribe

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Haha, thank you, Sandy! :)

  32. Love this!! My kids have nut allergies and have both ended up in the ER for it. I pack lunches for my kids every day (geez, THAT’s inconvenient), and I send my son to school with a full bag of goodies that he can have as an alternative to treats other kids bring. They keep his “stash” in the cupboard for whenever needed. My daughter’s teacher texts me with birthday parties for that week so I can make some goodies for her or buy some allergy-free treats (if I don’t forget!). Carina is pretty self centered, it’s sad

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Ohhh I like the idea of keeping a stash on hand at school. Thanks for sharing that, Sarah Jane! :)

  33. We’re lucky we don’t deal with life-threatening allergies, but we know many folks that do, and it SUCKS that anyone would be so frickin’ self-involved to write that dreck over at HuffPo. I’m glad you could craft a rational (and funny!) response. I just wanted to punch her.

  34. Leanne

    [Per her request, Leanne’s comment has been deleted. – RC, 5.17.2014]

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I would agree with your statement, Leanne, but I’m not sure how it’s relevant to this. I think it’s important to have these discussions to develop a greater understanding of what’s going on outside of our own isolated situations. In this case, my parenting… the best way I can… is to help perpetuate education about food allergies. Parenting the best way I can also includes being informed about lots of situations that aren’t relevant to my own (parenting black boys in the US, parenting children with autism, single parenting, etc), and I think discussions are vital to that.

      • Leanne

        [Per her request, Leanne’s comment has been deleted. – RC, 5.17.2014]

        • Roo Ciambriello

          I apologize if you found my comment to be condescending; that certainly was not my intent.

        • Allison

          Leanne, I actually found your original comment to be condescending “put the boxing gloves away” and the trite comment about parenting. Not sure how Roo could have been better with her response.

  35. Janet

    Those of you advocating fresh fruit….not a good idea. I know kids allergic to strawberries, kiwis, bananas, etc.!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I think it’s implied (maybe it’s not, and in that case, here’s a good reminder, thank you, Janet!) to find out if kids in the class have fruit allergies. :)

      • Sarah

        I think generally the sentiment is: try to make events oriented around food to be as inclusive as possible. There’s always the possibility that someone will be allergic to the strawberries in the fruit try, but can they have the pineapple?

        That being said…something that I don’t think a lot of people know is that those pre-packaged fruit trays that you can buy at the grocery store can actually be dangerous to certain allergy sufferers even if they can technically eat the fruit itself. Many of the pre-slice/pre-peeled fruits and veggies you can buy are sprinkled with powdered MSG to keep them fresh-looking!

  36. Leanne

    [Per her request, Leanne’s comment has been deleted. – RC, 5.17.2014]

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hi Leanne, I’m guessing this is response to Kelly’s comment (above). She won’t get a notification for it unless you reply directly to her comment.

    • I said that as a joke, and I’m sorry that it missed the mark. I really had a visceral reaction to the post, and I normally can take or leave this kind of thing. After all it’s an opinion piece. Something about it struck me though-and I was really glad to see Roo’s response because it was everything I could ever want to say (only obviously better).

      My poor taste in jokes aside you I have food allergies, too. They aren’t life-threatening so I’m very fortunate. Any frustration I experience is so small in comparison to someone’s LIFE that I just can’t imagine writing something like this.

      I have plenty of opportunities to do and bake special things for my kids-I can gladly give up birthday parties at school for the safety of others. Besides sending in my ‘wholesome’ treats also means the 20+ other parents can send in whatever junk they want for their child’s birthday. THAT is what’s getting out of hand IMO.

    • Leanne, an opinion is not “just” an opinion when it threatens the life and health of others. Leanne can have her attitude concerning allergies and Roo and others can explain why that attitude is dangerous and cruel. Emotions run high when we are talking about the safety of our children, your tone-policing is what is condescending here.

  37. Stacy

    I don’t understand why someone would put a cupcake before another person’s well being. My daughter has no allergies but chooses to sit with her friend at the peanut free table so she is not alone. I would never tell her to stop to make packing her lunch easier. To her being a good friend is more important than what she can or cannot have in her lunchbox. Not always an easy thing for a 6/7 year old!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Aww Stacy, your daughter sounds so very sweet! :)

  38. Roo, you win the Internets.

    I just don’t understand when parents get all huffy when they have to make accommodations for other children. No one enjoys having food allergies, least of all the kids themselves. Why make them feel bad about themselves? It’s no skin off our backs AS ADULTS to make allowances for others. Shame on you, Carina

    • Roo Ciambriello

      I agree, Alison. I’m a grown-up, and grown-ups should be able to – as you said – make allowances for others, especially children.

  39. Liz

    Roo,
    Thank you so much for writing such a quick response to Carina. My daughter, niece, godson and so on and so on have major, life threatening allergies. After reading Carina’s post (that had been liked by a friend of mine), I had two reactions:
    1) Take a moment and cry at the lack of humanity and compassion in the comment stream that accompanied her ignorant article. That moment involved some panic too.
    2) Remind myself of what we can do here. Unfortunately the world is filled with ignorant Carinas. As such I have to raise my daughter to learn how to take care of herself and NEVER assume that something is safe. (and yes, in preschool we too had the cupcakes in the freezer for her and so on.) This is sad, but it is true. She does not live in fear, but in a state of empowerment as she knows how to use her VOICE (and how to recreate great goodies at home, with me). Blogs and response like yours are so very important. It is our job to educate as many as we can that this is in fact VERY serious and not a case of a chosen neurotic diet. My 6 year old daughter has many friends who are hyper aware of her allergies as she is of theirs. I have yet to hear a young child sad b/c s/he kept another safe. Her friends one day will be her life savers and perhaps the life savers of others. Of equal importance is our job as adults to use our voice. My best friend taught me about allergies as her son (my Godson) has a range of serious allergies. I in turn was teaching others long before my daughter’s allergies presented.

    So, while this is long winded, I am fired up. We must continue to use our voices and teach those around us to do the same so that one day the INFORMED & COMPASSIONATE will outweigh the ignorant Carinas.

    With great appreciation,
    Liz

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Liz, thank you so much for your wonderful response. Not long winded at all; really important to share. I hope a lot of people read it. :)

  40. Abby

    I don’t have to battle any food allergies with my little, and I know I am very blessed for that. I myself, grew up with terrible asthma and environmental allergies and I can only imagine what my mother went through. I remember having a pet guinea pig in our 3rd grade class and coming home on many occasions with a head the size of mars and hives all over my body. I don’t know if class pets are a thing anymore, but for the sake of others like me, who at age 8 couldn’t resist touching the cute furry creatures, I hope not! With that being said, my oldest is in kindergarten, and as of this year our school went food free. We are not allowed to have treats of any sort for birthdays, parties, or any school function during school hours. Some of the room mom’s are having a hard time adjusting to the new party rules, but I think all in all, everyone is on board with it. I think it’s great! While I don’t have allergies to deal with, I would rather my kids not be eating sugary crap throughout the day. For my daughter’s birthday I sent a package of mini coloring books and crayons with her to hand out and it was a hit! We can all learn that we can celebrate occasions without food and we will be okay!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      “We can all learn that we can celebrate occasions without food and we will be okay!”

      Absolutely!! Gosh, that goes for grown-ups, too, right? Like maybe we could all go out and spend time together without binge-ing at the same time, haha. :)

  41. Rachel

    Wow. I made the mistake of reading the whole article after I saw this post. It was as though she was trying to encapsulate everything that is currently wrong with our society in one piece of writing, and send me into a depression by showing me how she wants to indoctrinate kids into being total self-involved schmucks before they hit the double digits in age. I’m just grateful I made a New Years resolution to NEVER read internet comments, because I bet that article contained some doozies.
    Try some creativity, lady- sugar your kid up at home with her cake and let her use the energy to make craft-packs for her friends at school. They like art just as much as they like baked goods. And glitter is annoying but at least it never kills anyone.

    • Roo Ciambriello

      That is a fantastic New Year’s resolution, and I just might steal it from you. And I’m laughing at your comment on glitter. I vacuum that stuff up for days, but I’d take that over cupcake-induced ER trips. :)

      • Seriously glitter….it’s like the sparkly sand of the craft world. Ends up in every crevice but at least it won’t send you to the ER.

  42. As a Spring Break birthday kid, I never had that big Chucky Cheese birthday, let alone the birthday party in class. And guess what, I survived. In fact, NO ONE had birthday parties in class because we were there to learn…not have random cupcakes.

    Jeez, can you imagine how many cupcakes would be rolling through the average elementary classroom DAILY, at a large public school if EVERY SINGLE kid there had an in-school birthday celebration?

    So when would the teaching actually happen?

    I’m fortunate in that my food allergies are ones that are extremely hard to run across accidentally. I was petrified when I had my daughter that she would end up with a peanut allergy or allergy to something pervasive and common in so many foods. Luckily, she doesn’t.

    I feel for those parents that have kids with allergies so dangerous that a simple stroll through a grocery store and a hand on the wrong shelf could cause a trip to the ER. To have to live in constant concern that someone like the author of the original blog post (Corina) would brush aside a real need for caution and something horrible happen. I don’t know how I would handle that.

    And every blog post I have read from Roo about her girls and the challenges they face with their allergies just makes me want to simultaneously fist-bump, hug and dance her around the room. That’s not weird is it? LOL Roo is a strong woman with a beautiful soul – and I silently cheered and air fist bumped while reading her reply to Corina

  43. I’m an NF reader and I popped over here out of sheer curiosity. My kids don’t have food allergies, but I will be following this blog because I think it’s important for EVERYONE to be educated about this topic … and because I never want to inadvertently post anything as ridiculous as that HuffPo article. Ever. RIDICULOUS, I say.

    Keep up the good work, Roo! You are a champion!

  44. Kristin B.

    What world does the author live in? What doesn’t contain eggs, nuts, and gluten that you can feed a group of young kids? Ummm, how about unprocessed fruits and vegetables?! Instead of insisting on a cake laden with real (but actually processed) butter, processed white cane sugar, and processed (nutrient empty) white flour…all of those ingredients are natural ingredients but unless you are buying organic and making from scratch or your growing your own and grinding your own flour, milking your own (organically fed) cow, and taking your own sugarcane you are feeding your kid a processed treat that has as much chemicals in it as a commercially made cake. Way to make yourself sound self indulgent and uneducated. O_o

  45. The lack of compassion in this article infuriated me. I, too, will always worry that moms like this are showing their children that my kid is just an inconvenience to them.

    I love the idea of special events being games and fun – without all of the food! My son’s class earns pajama days when they work hard. Much better than food related!!

  46. rachel

    I had many of the same thoughts you did reading the original screed. What I keep coming back to is this:

    If someone feels aggravated and inconvenienced by another person’s food allergies, just think about how aggravating and inconvenient it is for the person who actually has the allergy.

  47. Jen

    I love you. So, so much.

  48. Love the response Roo! I had to smooth the hackles down after that article and your response certainly helped with that.

    Although when you think about it, Carina Hoskisson is amazing. It is pretty incredible in this day and age, with almost limitless access to knowledge and information about the world around us to be so self-involved. How does a human being with reason and emotional intelligence get to the point of feeling resentful towards people with life-threatening conditions?

    Ah, she’s blamed those pesky allergy parents of urban legend. Getting about making people eat cardboard out of contrariness. Them and their kids with fake allergies demanding people be kind and caring for no dang reason. I hate those guys.

    And after all Carina did show a thoughtful side –
    “To a certain extent, I get it. When I was in high school, a girl in my town died from eating a few bites of a Twix bar that happened to contain traces of peanuts. Many allergies can be deadly, even in tiny increments.” […] I probably wouldn’t have admitted my limited capacity to understand the issue but that’s just me.

    I like that Carina is not afraid to fight for the birth-right of every child on the planet to have access to cake with a specific list of ingredients at their place of learning. Hang on, no, that’s what she’s against, um. Anyway, right up there with Mandela, Carina.

    Wow.

  49. Barb May

    I agree with Carina. Instead of making everyone else around you cater to your child with food allergies, how about you, as the parent, make sure your child has food he or she can eat? It’s not about being compassionate or understanding, it’s about taking on your own responsibility. I am responsible for my own kids; therefore, I make sure my kids have what they can eat. If I need to be responsible for yours too, let me claim them on my tax return! Or provide me with the cash to purchase the specialty food your child requires!

    • Roo Ciambriello

      Hey Barb, do me a favor and read the whole article before responding. Carina’s complaining that her kid can’t have cake that contains ingredients that are deadly to other kids for a class party.

      You don’t want to feed other kids? Good! Don’t! That’s not what this (and even Carina’s article) is even about.

  50. Kat79

    I’m a summer birthday also but my school let us do half birthdays so I lucked out on that. When my son had “the allergy kid” in his class in kindergarten I was annoyed at first then I became friends with his mom and realized what a struggle she has. 4 kids all with different allergies. I began to look at it from a different perspective. It was a eye opening experience and she wasn’t even one of the “if my kid can’t have it no one can parents” since his allergies were ingestion based. I now work at the school and try to help people understand why their kid won’t have ptsd because he couldn’t have cupcakes or a pb&j for lunch. In fact one of my son’s favorite snacks is graham crackers dipped in applesauce because we use it as a safe birthday treat one year. I have seen it teach tolerance and kindness first hand. If more kids thought about how their action effect others we might have a very different world someday.

  51. Leigh

    Well done Roo!!! I hope that one day we can see people come together where we can show compassion over allergies like we do autism, diabetes, etc. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that are just like Carina and some of them are related to me. My child can’t even eat a lot of the allergy friendly processed foods (but thank goodness for Enjoy Life!). We cook from scratch every single day. I hate when people tell me what a pain it is to deal with allergies, like I have no idea. Or when people argue with me that something is safe when I say it’s not (have you ever looked up the other names for corn? It’s astonishing). Allergies do worsen with each exposure. I have many allergies but the one to feathers is the one I’ve been exposed to the most. A feather pillow sent me to the ER. My shellfish allergy did too. My child ended up in the ER after a reaction to toothpaste. My friends child ended up in the ER because of finger paint. The list goes on. Allergies can kill. They aren’t simply an in convience. They can be life-threatening and need to be taken seriously. And I know I am preaching to the choir so to speak. :)

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