Recap: Gluten-free School Trip to D.C. - Celiac Disease
May 22 2010

Recap: Gluten-free School Trip to D.C.

A while back I wrote about Jon heading on a trip to D.C. with his 8th grade class in May. Jon just returned home last night, had a fantastic time and did not get sick once! Jon is extremely sensitive, so safely eating gluten-free is always a concern of mine. I did send some food along with him to make sure that he had some safe food, but the majority of the food he ate was provided to him by the school and trip coordinators.

There was a mom, Lindy, of another child with Celiac Disease going along as a chaperone on the trip. She & I got together to brainstorm about gluten-free foods that would travel well and did not have to be kept cold. I sent to following foods along with Jon:

Lindy & I sat down and went over the itinerary to see what days the kids would need to have a packed lunch brought along due to nothing safe being available for them. On those days, Lindy made Jon a sandwich from Udi’s bread (does not have to be kept cold – will stay good for 7 days at room temperature), PB & Jelly. The sandwich would then be passed along to Jon’s chaperone who would carry it for him. Jon didn’t have any problems finding side items to go along with his sandwich. The sides were usually chips of some sort and a pop. He is well versed in which chips are safe for him to eat.

Monday Jon ate a sandwich for lunch and then was served a pre-plated dinner at Old Country Buffet. The school had contacted the restaurant ahead of time to let them know that they would need 2 gluten-free meals. Jon was served a plate of fish (which he said was really good), broccoli and fresh fruit. I was pleased to hear that he had survived his first day without getting sick. Phew!

Tuesday Jon was spoiled and had Uno’s (Union Station) gluten-free pizza for lunch. He mentioned how it was the best gluten-free pizza he has had and that it looked just like the pizza his friends were eating. What a nice thing for him to not stand out, but to be just like his friends. He also had Dippin’ Dots, which are all gluten-free, with the exception of the flavors that have added in gluten (cookies, brownies, etc). Dinner was at the Pentagon City Mall where he had a pre-packed sandwich on Udi’s bread and found some chips & a pop to go along with it. He was able to get some ice cream from Haagen-Daz.

Wednesday they all had lunch at the National Zoo. Lunch was another sandwich on Udi’s bread, Dippin’ Dots and a drink. Later that day the entire group went to the Mets vs. Nationals game (they saw an inside the park homerun!). There are gluten-free hot soft pretzels available in the park in sections 106 and 318, however, Jon opted for Five Guys fries, Dippin’ Dots and a thinkThin protein bar. Anyone else sensing a fascination with the Dippin’ Dots going on here?

Thursday lunch was after they visited the National Museum of Natural History and Jon said the pickings were slim. He said that of all the places they visited the entire week, this place had the least number of choices of gluten-free foods. He did have a sandwich on Udi’s bread and some chips. Dinner was a cookout at the hotel where they stayed. Jon was served a pre-plated dinner of chicken breast, broccoli & asparagus.

Friday was the trip home. Lunch was in Gettysburg at General Pickett’s Buffet and was prearranged through the school. Jon was served a pre-plated lunch of chicken, carrots, baked potato and cantaloupe. Dinner was at a rest area in Pittsburgh. Jon had another sandwich made of Udi’s bread and PB & J. He also found some Hershey’s ice cream. He knew that Hershey’s was safe due to us eating this each year when we go on vacation.

The group stayed at a Hyatt in Fair Lakes that was very accommodating. Each morning Jon was served eggs, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit & milk. I believe the only day that he had to dip into the food I sent was the first day, with the exception of the loaf of Udi’s bread. He came home with a suitcase full of food!

I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am that everything went so smoothly. A very special thanks to the school, Discovery Tours and to Lindy for all helping keep Jon safe. It means a lot that he was able to go with his friends and not feel left out or different because he can’t eat the same foods that they all can. With careful planning, trips like this can be accomplished.

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!


  1. WOW – what would he have done without Udi’s bread? Udi’s is really changing gf life! As for gf food on the mall, the National Museum of the American Indian is the best option. Did you know that he was staying near one of the best Whole Foods – Fair Lakes, which is where Emeril Green shot many episodes? Glad he had a good trip!

    • Wow! I had no idea he was that close to the WF! It is a shame that even Lindy couldn’t have run over there b/c the only transportation they had were the buses. Good thing to keep in mind for a future trip! I guess some of the kids were at the National Museum of the American Indian were there at lunch time, but his group was not.


  2. Tiffany Janes says:

    Kim – I’m so glad Jon has such a nice trip. And you should be proud that he is so mature and knows how to take care of himself so far from home. Clearly, you’ve instilled in him some valuable life tools that will help him way beyond the gluten-free diet!

  3. Bruce says:

    Kim – I’m so glad Jon has such a nice trip. And you should be proud that he is so mature and knows how to take care of himself so far from home. Clearly, you’ve instilled in him some valuable life tools that will help him way beyond the gluten-free diet!

  4. Michelle says:

    Sounds like a really great trip! We’re quite familiar with the prospect of trying to send foods to school that look similar to what other kids are having. It’s particularly difficult during the summer when so many of the “craft projects” are actually food-related. My husband is usually the one who’s on top of that sort of stuff. Our now 4-year old daughter has known for at least a couple of years the things she’s not supposed to have: wheat, cow’s milk and sugar. How cute is that? (She’ll always say, “Read the ‘gredients, Mom. Can we have it?) Really glad Jon was able to have such a good time, and I know firsthand how relieved you must feel too…

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