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Why Your Next Church Bake Sale Should Include Alternative Food Options

If you’re thinking about bringing a dish to pass at your next church gathering, you may want to check with other churchgoers and make sure nobody has any allergies. The CDC has noted a steady increase in food allergies in the past 20 years, with some studies estimating up to a 50% rise.

The underlying causes of food allergies aren’t exactly clear, but the effects are ever-apparent and can range from a mild rash and ticklish throat to full-blown anaphylactic shock and even death.

As a result of the increased amount of food allergies, many institutions are enacting policies intended to clarify what foods should be brought into shared eating areas. For example, public schools have been known to restrict certain foods that are more common for allergies, such as peanut butter. Teachers have also been making an increased effort to be mindful of which students have allergies and consciously seating them away from other students during lunchtimes.

All of these changes being made in public institutions beg the question of whether or not churches should be taking preventative measures as well. After all, gathering to eat is a majorly integrated theme of Christianity.

According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), 90% of allergies derive from eight sources: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. While this may seem like a limited and easily avoidable list of foods, food items that contain one or more of these products can be extremely hard to avoid.

In a typical gathering of 100 people, statistics show that between one and five people are likely to have a serious food allergy, and children are more prone than older adults. Due to these rates, many churches have been setting food policies such as labeling allergen-free dishes and separating them from the other dishes, and some have adopted a policy to offer gluten-free bread for communion. As allergy awareness grows, so do church’s efforts to keep those with allergies safe. No word yet on other allergens, but perhaps something should be done about those as well — in a national study, 82% of U.S. homes were found to have mouse allergens.

Overall, it’s more important than ever for churchgoers of all ages to stay mindful of those who may have severe food allergies and continue to take the steps needed to provide a safer environment for all followers of God.

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