Earlier this month, I mentioned in my review of Mi-Del cookies that I give my kids’ teachers a small care package of gluten-free snacks at the beginning of the year for them to store in the classroom for my kids. These are not meant to be the snacks that my kids get to eat everyday. (I send my kids to school each day with gluten-free snacks and lunch.) The snacks in this care package are there for backup reasons because sometimes snacks and treats are offered in the classroom that aren’t gluten-free. And having these in the classroom makes sure that my kids are not left out of any last-minute activities involving gluten. For example:
- Probably the most common situation: A classmate brings in cupcakes, cookies, or treats to share with the class for their birthday. My son chooses a package of cookies out of his gluten-free package.
- The class earns a reward (popcorn) for good behavior or reaching a class goal, but the teacher isn’t sure if it’s gluten-free. My son gets a bag of popcorn or chips out of the gluten-free package.
- The teacher creates a project that involves building something with pretzels or crackers, but forgets to tell us in advance. My daughter gets out her gluten-free pretzels or crackers to use instead.
- My daughter’s snack or lunch didn’t make it to school and the cafeteria doesn’t offer anything gluten-free. My daughter can eat from her GF care package if I’m unable to bring it to school.
- It is perhaps unlikely, but should an emergency situation arise and the school is on lock-down, I know my kids will have something they can eat without getting sick.
What’s in a Gluten-Free Care Package? I like to choose self-contained, single-serve, small packages of gluten-free items that won’t spoil in the teacher’s cabinet or desk. I also try to present it to the teacher in a small container that is easy for them to store. A large zip-style bag, or medium size plastic container clearly labeled Gluten-Free for my son or daughter seems to work well. Here are some items that we have used for this purpose:
- Midel, S’mores cookies
- Pamela’s 2-Count Cookie Packs: Chocolate Chunk Pecan Shortbread and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
- Pebbles Treats Fruity Pebbles variety and Cocoa Pebbles variety
- Schar Chocolate Hazelnut Bars
- Schar Sandwich Creme Cookies (2 cookies in each package) Vanilla Creme variety and Chocolate Creme variety
- Surf Sweets Gummy Bear Snack Packs
- Ener-G Foods Pretzel Rings
- FoodShouldTasteGood Multigrain Tortilla Chips
- Glutino Pretzel Twists Snack Packs
- Pirate’s Booty
- Schar Gluten Free Snack Crackers These come in a box of 6 individual packs. Each pack contains 8 crackers.
- Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn (Be careful! We have not experienced any problems with this product, however it is not guaranteed gluten-free. According to Frito-Lay, there are no gluten ingredients in this product. Unfortunately, they do no currently test these for traces of gluten.)
- Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Fruit Snacks
- Ocean Spray Craisins 100-calorie Packs
- Simply Fruit Fruit Rollups
Rice, Granola, or Energy Bars:
- Bakery On Main Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
- Can Do Kid Bars
- EnviroKidz Peanut Choco Drizzle Crispy Rice Bars
Communicate with the teacher! It’s been my experience that most teachers are familiar and comfortable with this arrangement. However, I strongly suggest that you discuss it with the teacher before sending a small care package of food to school. This may not work in all classrooms or for all teachers. Along with the package of food that I provide to the teacher, I like to attach a brief note to remind the teacher what it is for, and to please let me know if at any time during the year it needs to be replenished.
Make it easy on yourself. Our family is fortunate to live in an area with gluten-free snack items available at our grocery stores. If this isn’t the case for you, you can order some items online. A single box of the Schar sandwich cookies with your student’s name clearly written on it would do the trick. Or, perhaps a small bag of your child’s favorite candy would work for you.
More occasions to use a gluten-free care package. All of these items would also be great gluten-free additions for a gluten-free lunch, a gift to send to college students, and for a travel pack.
Do you do something similar? Please feel free to add any other ideas in the comments.