There's an allergic student in my CU
There are many people who have reactions to particular foods. For some, the reaction may be mild but for those with severe allergy any contact could prove fatal. Someone with a food or other allergy will be very aware of the problems that can arise, and will be great at looking out for others who may also be allergic, to ensure that their health is not compromised. They might be a good person to help with catering for your events.
- For communion, gluten-free wafers or bread should be available for those with coeliac disease or wheat allergy.
- Gluten-free products should always be served from separate containers to avoid cross-contamination.
- Gluten-free biscuits should be available for the refreshments and can be obtained from most supermarkets.
- Keep food packaging for allergen advice.
- Have a non-alcoholic wine available at communion - recovering alcoholics and those on specific medications will appreciate this.
- All food products should be clearly marked as to their content.
- Any risk of contamination from other food products, such as nuts, must be clearly marked.
- If a residential or day outing is planned take the time to organize special meals for those with particular requirements – this will always be greatly appreciated and show a high level of pastoral care.
- Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy (e.g. a person with a severe nut allergy walking into a room where peanut biscuits are out on a plate).
- How to recognise anaphylaxis: Symptoms can include feeling faint or lightheaded, wheezing or breathing difficulties, rapid heartbeat and clammy skin, a raised, blotchy red rash or swelling of the lips or face, pain, vomiting or loss of consciousness.
- What to do in the event of anaphylaxis: call 999 without delay. Mention that you suspect anaphylaxis. Be sure to describe whether or not the patient is conscious and breathing. Remove the trigger if possible – eg the food source in the room, or if it is a response to a bee or wasp sting, ensure this is not still stuck in the skin. It may help to lie the person flat, but NOT if they are having difficulty breathing. If there is an adrenaline auto-injector (such as an epi-pen) and someone present who is trained to use it, then give one injection, and if symptoms don’t improve and the ambulance has not yet arrived, give another after 5 – 15 minutes.
- Assume nothing - always ask.
This resource is part of our Accessible CU series, created especially for Christian Unions by Through The Roof, a Christian Disability charity. To read this article in full, and other articles on including disabled students, download the student version of Through the Roof's publication Be a Roofbreaker for just £3.