Plan a Church Picnic That Meets Everyone’s Dietary Needs
With warmer weather and longer days, Summer is the perfect time to take your community events outdoors. Outdoor potlucks and picnics are a fantastic way to gather as a community; there’s food to share, wide open spaces for the kids to run around, and minimal prep and clean up required. Chances are, however, there are people in your congregation with dietary restrictions that sometimes make it hard for them to enjoy these activities to their fullest. In this blog post, we will explore how to plan church summer picnic events while providing diverse and accommodating food options for individuals with dietary restrictions.
Survey Dietary Needs
You don’t know what you don’t know. Before your event, send out a survey or registration form for attendees to indicate any specific dietary restrictions they may have. Encourage people to provide details about their requirements, such as allergies, intolerances, or preferences. Also, ask the severity of their allergies— for instance, are you avoiding gluten for your diet or do you have Celiac Disease? This can help you ensure the food you provide is adequate for the needs at hand.
Develop the Menu
Once you have a clear understanding of the dietary restrictions within your community, you can develop a menu that caters to everyone’s needs. Consider the following options:
a. Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes:
Include a variety of plant-based dishes to accommodate those who follow vegetarian or vegan diets. Grilled vegetable skewers, salads, hummus with fresh veggies, and vegan burger options are popular choices.
b. Gluten-Free Alternatives:
Ensure there are gluten-free options available for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Substitute regular buns with gluten-free buns for burgers and hot dogs, offer gluten-free pasta salads, or provide rice-based dishes.
c. Allergen-Free Selections:
Take allergies into account when planning your menu. Label all dishes clearly, indicating any common allergens present, such as nuts, dairy, eggs, or seafood. It’s essential to keep ingredients separate and avoid cross-contamination during food preparation.
Consider a Potluck-style Picnic
To further cater to diverse dietary needs and engage the community, consider organizing a potluck-style picnic. Encourage attendees to bring a dish that aligns with their dietary requirements, allowing everyone to contribute and share their favorite foods. This approach fosters a sense of inclusivity and encourages community members to come together in celebration. It will also ensure that members with strict sensitivities will still have something yummy they know they can enjoy.
Promote Allergy Awareness and Food Safety
It’s crucial to educate volunteers about food allergies, cross-contamination, and safe food handling practices. Emphasize the importance of maintaining separate utensils and serving areas for different dishes, labeling allergen-free options, and implementing appropriate measures to prevent contamination. Train your volunteers to address any questions or concerns regarding dietary restrictions during the event.
Planning church summer picnic events that cater to diverse dietary needs requires thoughtful consideration and effective communication. By understanding and accommodating the specific dietary restrictions within your community, you create an environment where everyone feels valued and included. Remember, inclusivity extends beyond just the food options. Foster an atmosphere of understanding, respect, and unity, making the church picnic a memorable and enjoyable experience for all attendees.
About the Author
Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.