Macedon Center UMC Food Allergy Awareness and Safety Policy
In order to continue to be welcoming and nurturing, Macedon Center United Methodist Church will be putting into place restrictions around peanuts and all tree nuts in our building. This practice reflects our deep desire to be a welcoming and safe congregation for members, friends, and visitors that have potentially life-threatening allergies to peanuts or tree nuts.
As many as 15 million Americans have food allergies – 4% of adults in the US and 8% of children. Eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Peanut and tree nut allergies comprise the largest percentage and present unique risk (as detailed below).
For these reasons, Macedon Center UMC wishes to eliminate all peanuts/tree nuts from our facilities. Please see the policies being added to the Facilities Use Policy.
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe to life threatening (anaphylaxis). Mild reactions can include a skin reaction like hives, redness or swelling, upset stomach and wheezing. A severe to life threatening allergic reaction can range from difficulty breathing to shock and loss of consciousness. This life threatening reaction is defined as anaphylaxis, which means a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. Different people have different reactions and reactions can change from one incident to the next.
Why Can’t People Just Avoid Peanuts?
While food allergies are becoming more common, tree nuts and/or peanut allergies are growing more rapidly than any other allergy. According to the CDC, over 3,000,000 people in the United States are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, or both, and peanut/nut allergies are the most common causes of food-related anaphylaxis death.
An allergic reaction can occur by touching the allergen (contact), having the allergen enter through inhalation (airborne), and/or by eating a food item that contains the allergen, even trace amounts (ingestion). Some people with allergies will have an allergic reaction through ingestion only, while others’ reactions will be by contact, airborne, and/or ingestion. It is particularly difficult to control exposure to nuts. Allergic reactions can result when peanut/tree nut oil/residue is left on surfaces, fingers, clothing, and someone with a nut allergy is exposed to that oil or residue. For example, if someone with a nut allergy is exposed to even a small amount of peanut or peanut oil/residue left on surfaces, a reaction can occur from this very small amount of peanut residue. Peanut and nut residue that is oily can remain on surfaces for a long period of time.
What if someone brings a food item with peanuts or tree nuts?
As we transition into these practices, we realize some of us might forget. We ask that everyone work together to remind each other not to bring or serve anything with peanuts or tree nuts. If a snack or food item has nuts, we will ask that it be removed and returned to your car.
Remember that empathy and compassion are the key elements to understanding the reason behind these peanut and tree nut practices. Thank you for assisting in making Macedon Center UMC a more welcoming and even safer place for everyone who walks through our doors.
Macedon Center UMC Nut-Free Facility Policies
Due to the rise in food allergies, with peanut and tree nut allergies being the highest percentage and often most severe, Macedon Center UMC is striving to be a nut-free facility. Please be aware of the following policies:
- Do not bring any food item that contains peanuts or tree nuts, including peanut butter or items cooked in peanut oil, or items that have allergen warnings that they may contain nuts. If you are unsure, do not bring it to church.
- The disclaimer for food “prepared in the same facility as peanuts/tree nuts” should be displayed with the appropriate food if applicable. If you can avoid bringing such items, please do so. If not, please place a note on/near the item.
- Ensure that proper clean up occurs whenever ANY food is involved. All surfaces should be wiped down after food is present – including tables, counters, chairs (if needed), and children’s areas. If your child is in the children’s area of the Fellowship Hall – please limit food and clean up thoroughly. Some children in our congregation are allergic to more than nuts.
- Recognize that each allergy and each allergic person is different. Just because one person is comfortable eating something, doesn’t mean another person will feel the same. Please be understanding and compassionate.
- Food preparers at church functions should wash hands and wear gloves, and be careful touching one food and then touching another (to prevent cross contamination). Organizers should be aware of ingredients in food being prepared. If there is a risk of cross contamination, signs should be posted at the event letting attendees know that there is a risk.
- Because there is no guarantee that items are 100% free of cross contamination, people with food allergies and parents of children with food allergies are to be responsible and diligent in protecting themselves and their children.
- Serving of food in areas other than the Fellowship Hall is allowed, as long as those food items don’t contain nuts and the area is thoroughly cleaned after.
- Note that Macedon Center UMC also wishes to recognize other allergies exist as well. While we do not plan to eliminate other allergens from the premises at this time, we wish to be as safe and welcoming as possible for everyone. This requires care in clean up especially.
- A simple list of “What to do in an Emergency” as well as a list of members of the church with First Aid, CPR and other appropriate certifications will be posted in the Sunday school classrooms, main office, and kitchen areas.
- Parents of children with allergies must submit an emergency plan to Sunday school director. A copy will be placed in the child’s SS room and in the kitchen. The plan should include a way to immediately provide emergency treatment and how to contact a parent. If the child carries and Epi pen, parents must show the Sunday school teacher how to use the Epi pen in an emergency.
- Foodlink Mobile Pantry: We have no ability to monitor items brought in by Foodlink for our Mobile Pantry distributions. Volunteers with allergies will need to use caution and avoid working in areas where allergens are present. All Macedon Center UMC tables should be thoroughly wiped done to eliminate traces of allergens before tables are put away.