Friendly Gluten-Free Options for Children’s Ministry

Friendly Gluten-Free Options for Children's Ministry

A big thanks to Katie Knight for today’s guest post on friendly gluten-free options for children’s ministry.

Food allergies. They make us all a little nervous. Just when we thought we had the peanut allergies down, then came another big one – gluten!

What is gluten? Gluten is the protein found is certain kinds of grains, including wheat, barley and rye. Any traditional wheat products (bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) contain gluten, in addition to other products that may contain traces of gluten.

Coming from a person who was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease four years ago, I can testify that it can be tough to find gluten-free, affordable, and tasty food. If you’re really uncomfortable dealing with this topic, then one of the best ways to handle this in a children’s ministry is to ask one of the mom’s of a child in your ministry. These moms are usually happy to help.

However, with a little research, you can handle providing gluten-free options very easily on your own!

When looking at gluten-free food options, remember that many normal foods will work perfectly. However, if you think something is naturally gluten free (such as canned vegetables), remember that you have to check first, because there might be added gluten. Carefully check every label before buying a snack for your ministry.

Also, many children with allergies have more than one food allergy/intolerance, so be sure to check with a parent before serving other foods that might contain dairy, nuts, gluten, etc.

Here are some great gluten-free (GF) snack ideas:

  • Naturally Gluten-Free:
    • Fresh fruit
    • Fresh veggies
    • Most cheeses
    • Most yogurts
  • Specialty Gluten-Free:
    • GF pretzels
    • GF crackers
    • GF muffins
    • GF bagels
    • GF granola bars

Here are some great gluten-free meal options:

  • Naturally Gluten-Free:
    • Most meats (always check the additives and seasonings)
    • Potatoes and rice
    • Salad (always check the salad dressing, and no croutons)
    • Vegetables
    • Eggs
  • Specialty Gluten-Free:
    • Gluten free frozen meals (including pizza!)
    • Gluten free bread (to make sandwiches)
    • Gluten free pasta

Please note with these items, it is very important not to have cross contamination. For example, don’t stick your hand in a box of animal crackers, then handle gluten free crackers, or spread peanut butter on regular bread, and then use the same jar to put peanut butter on gluten free bread. Avoid this by always using a separate clean surface and clean utensils for serving gluten free food and make sure your hands are clean.

Gluten free items can be expensive. The best way to avoid a large bill is to buy items that are naturally gluten free, or to buy them in bulk.

By meeting the physical needs of children, you can then have the opportunity to meet their spiritual needs. By providing friendly gluten-free food for kids in your ministry, you will gain this opportunity for evangelism and discipleship.