Many times as we plan events for kids, one of the first questions that arises is "What will we eat?" Snacks and food can be important parts of what we do in kids ministry and at church. Here are some of my most important lessons regarding food/snacks gleaned from my years in kids ministry.
- Kids will eat just about any vegetable if ranch dip is available, too. (Exception: celery – almost no one will eat celery, no matter what you do to it.)
- Kids like to make their own snacks – and may eat something unfamiliar if they helped make it.
- Dried fruit is rarely eaten..or if eaten is rarely liked.
- If you can eat fruit salad made by preschoolers, you can eat almost anything else.
- A child can cut his finger…and draw blood…with a plastic knife.
- You can never find a bandage when a child cuts his finger with a plastic knife.
- Snack time can be fun – but must also be safe.
Washing hands and using good hygiene practices is important when food is involved. We should do our part to keep kids safe and healthy. But, more than that, we must remember other issues related to food. Allergies and other medical conditions will impact what food is served (and maybe whether food is served at all).
Last year a boy in my class was diagnosed with diabetes. Immediately the way I looked at the food in my classroom changed. We don’t have a weekly snack but we do use food sometimes in our activities. I had to ask myself what would be appropriate, what options would be provided, and even if I needed to do something else to communicate the Bible truth (instead of eating).
I’ve learned that kids can be allergic to almost anything and can have food-related issues about all types of food. Ask parents to give you a list of foods that their children react to and a list of symptoms their children exhibit. Communicate with parents regularly about food you are serving. Post signs that list what you are tasting (or touching or smelling). Encourage parents to let you know when new medical issues are diagnosed. Discover ways to partner with parents so you can provide fun–and safe–learning experiences for kids.
What tips, tricks, or lesson do you have to share about food in your kids ministry?