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Food for Thought Managing allergies in your pack.

Part B of the Annual Health

and Medical Record (No. 680-001) includes space to list allergies to food, medications, plants, and insect bites or stings, so it’s a good place to start gathering information. Scouts with severe allergies may also have a food allergy action plan that their parents can share with you; such plans are required under federal law for students whose allergies are serious enough to be considered dis- abilities. “That health care plan is very important to any family with food allergies because it lists the symptoms and whether or not the child should immediately receive an EpiPen or should just receive a Benadryl,” Nicole Smith says. Once you have allergy information,

BOB SMITH OF COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., took his second-grade son, Morgan, to a Cub Scout signup night in 2003. When he mentioned Morgan’s severe food allergies, a pack volunteer surprised him by saying Morgan couldn’t join Scouts because the pack didn’t have a way to keep him safe. Undeterred, Smith started his own den, and he and his wife, Nicole, began educating other pack families about food allergies. Stephanie Marcinkowski became

a den leader in Fox Chase, Pa., for much the same reason as Bob Smith. When her second son, William, who has food allergies, followed his older brother, Walter, into Cub Scouting, she got drafted as an assistant Tiger leader. (She recently stepped down as pack committee chair and now serves as pack trainer.)

16 SCOUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2014 How can your pack accommo-

date boys with severe food allergies? Scouting asked Marcinkowski and Bob and Nicole Smith for their advice.

Ask — Don’t Assume Information is essential. While some parents are passionate advocates for their kids, others won’t mention food allergies unless you ask. “You almost have to pull it out of the parents at the pack level,” says Marcinkowski, who has sometimes heard about a Scout’s food allergies months after he joined. One reason for parents’ reticence

is that they don’t want their sons to be singled out. Another is that they may not realize that food is involved in den meetings. “They think, ‘Why would my child be eating anything at Cub Scouts? There’s no need for me to be concerned,’ ” Bob Smith says.

you need to act on it. Marcinkowski recommends recruiting one parent to review forms, follow up with the families and share relevant details with den leaders. The ideal candidate would be someone with a health care background or an awareness of food allergies.

Think Safety The easiest way to avoid problems with food allergies is to ban food from den meetings, which Bob Smith did. “It wasn’t something they needed, since the meetings were only about an hour long,” he says. “Plus, I’d get them really involved in other things than worrying about food.” When you do have treats, you could establish a separate station

TO LEARN MORE, check out the latest edition of the Cooking merit badge pamphlet (No. 617899) or visit or


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