Steps to take that will help you include all dietary requirements
It’s easy to make small changes to include all dietary requirements
Gaining independence through guiding activities and attending residential events means that young members will have the opportunity to cook and try new food.
Some members may have different dietary requirements due to allergies, their religious beliefs and practices, or ethical choices. When planning to have food in meetings or catering for residential events, it's important to take this into account.
Always ask for more information
If a member, or their parent, tells you that they have a dietary requirement - or if a dietary requirement is highlighted on a Starting form or Information and consent for event/activity form - ask them for more information.
- What are they able to eat and what do they avoid?
- How strict is their dietary requirement? Do all traces need to be avoided? For example, does an allergy or cultural practice mean all food must be stored and cooked separately, or are traces acceptable?
- What food do they usually have as alternatives?
They have the most expertise about their own requirements. They will have the answers and suggestions of alternative food.
Make a range of options available
All participants do not need to eat the same meals. Consider having food and menus with a number of variations where members can choose the options which suit them and their dietary requirements.
For example, if you are planning to cook outdoors using marshmallows that contain gelatine, provide some alternative options such as bananas or bread twists. This will give the members control over their own requirements and allow them to be discreet about their needs.
Keep the packaging
If a member has a dietary requirement they, or their parent, may wish to check the ingredients of a product themselves. Make sure to keep all the food packaging so that it can be shared with them if needed. You may also wish to provide ingredients lists for parents and/or the girls prior to cooking activities or residential events.
Think about food storage and preparation areas
It may be necessary to have different areas in the kitchen for food storage and preparation, including the use of different utensils. This ensures there is no cross-contamination between food at any point.
Try not to make assumptions
Remember that young people are often exploring their own beliefs, ethics and boundaries - they may not share their parents’ beliefs or ethics or be choosing to observe religious practices.
Make sure that members are given all the information about food available. This will allow them to make their own informed decisions.