St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church
Food and Allergy Policy
One of the great values for St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church is the importance of children and families. Our very mission statement is that We are a family of faith reaching out to you with the life-changing love and grace of Jesus Christ. We are a family wanting to impact every family.
Part of that vision is that we want to ensure the safety and security of every person and child within our community and within our facilities. Part of this effort is seen in our food and allergy policy.
St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church honors scripture as the rule and guide for our lives and for ministry. Showing hospitality and accommodations is a value shown over and over again throughout scripture:
Matthew 25: 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Matthew 7:12: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets
Romans 14:15-20 15 If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat;
Matthew 18:6: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Galatians 6:2: Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
St. Matthews recognizes there are many food allergies that may affect members of our congregation. St. Matthews also recognizes the primary responsibility for avoiding those foods to which a member may be allergic falls to the individual or the parents of a child with food allergies and to make wise and appropriate decisions regarding how to participate in church events that include food. St. Matthew’s UMC Food and Allergy Policy is specifically directed to peanut and tree nut allergies due to the severity and ease of cross-contamination involving these allergens. St. Matthew’s Food and Allergy Policy is not intended to minimize other food allergen’s but recognizes that these are best dealt with on an individual basis.
In accordance with our Mission Statement and our Biblical Perspective, St. Matthew’s will work with parents of children who have allergies to attempt to limit exposure to those known allergens. We do not believe that an outright ban on allergens is appropriate or effectively enforceable in our Church that has been blessed with many different ministries and volunteers.
When a parent informs St. Matthew’s Children’s Minister, Youth Minister, or Weekday Director (the “Allergy Team”) that their child has a food allergy, a plan for that child will be developed that will include but are not limited to, the following:
- Gathering of yearly medical information for children and youth within our areas of ministry.
- Including medical and allergy concerns on registration forms.
- Keeping a record of each known concern for all within our community that have needs.
St. Matthew’s Food Allergies General Policy:
- A parent, guardian, or other responsible adults should send any snacks, lunches, etc. to the Church Program that they will allow their child to consume.
- If one wishes to allow their child to consume food items from the Church, they must provide written permission with the knowledge and understanding that St. Matthew’s cannot provide assurance that the allergen is not present in the food item.
- One’s child will not be allowed to consume food items that are brought to Church by other children or their parents. As always, a parent or guardian can attend and monitor their child if you would like them to consume any foods brought in for special events.
- St. Matthew’s Weekday Ministry Food Allergy policy is overseen by our Weekday Ministry Board of Directors and is in full compliance with regulations for the Mississippi Department of Health.
Church Wide Events
- In this context, a church-wide event is defined to be an event, such as a pot-luck dinner, that is open to the St. Matthew’s congregation as a whole, and therefore it is impossible for the event coordinator to know if sensitive individuals will be participating.
- At church-wide events, all children are under the direct supervision of their parents, and therefore, it is the parent's responsibility to assess the risk of exposure of sensitive children to allergens and to take appropriate steps to minimize or eliminate that exposure.
Use of Church Facilities by non-St. Matthew’s Ministries
- This type of event is an occurrence, such as a wedding reception, where an outside party requests use of St. Matthew’s facilities for a specific purpose and time, under the terms of the building use policy.
- The St. Matthew’s building facilities manager (or appropriate staff) shall ensure that all facilities used by the non-St. Matthew’s event shall be cleaned so as to remove food residue. (i. e. When tables are used they shall be wiped down to remove all food residues, including nut or other known allergens.)
These guidelines are an act of service by the congregation of St. Matthew’s to our members and visitors who may be sensitive to peanut and tree nut and other allergens, and their children. It represents our best understanding of the steps necessary to minimize the risk of exposure of sensitive individuals to allergens while participating at St. Matthew’s sponsored events. However, it needs to be understood that it is not possible to eliminate the risks. Therefore, participants and parents of nut and other allergen sensitive children, are advised to use their own best judgment with regards to any specific event, as to whether or not adequate precautions have been taken, and to not participate in the event if they have not. Nothing in this policy should be understood St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church assumes liability in the event of a nut-related or other allergic reaction.