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  1. #1
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    Default Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Does your child have food allergies? How does your school or classroom handle it? Nut free table, nut free school? Is there an allergy task force or anything? How did you go about getting rules enforced?

    DS has several life threatening food allergies. He just started preschool this year and it is part of the public school program and in the elementary school. Per the nurse and myself, the classroom needs to be free of his allergens.

    A letter went home via email to all the parents letting them know about the allergies, that they are life threatening, and that none of the listed items could be brought to school. The parents were asked to sign and return the form.

    I also emailed the parents explaining allergies a bit and that I could be contacted with any questions or concerns. And I offered food recipes and mix alternatives.

    A mother emailed the director stating this-(hopefully she's not a member of this board. If she is by the off chance...I'd be more than happy to talk to you about it offline...)

    "We do not agree with this approach on food allergies. It is not fair that our children have to be deprived for other allergy issues.
    We will not sign the note that you sent from the school nurse.
    Notes of this nature should come from you not the parent. We will try to comply. I am sure that you keep the class snacks aligned and we will be aware when it comes to birthday/holiday/etc events."

    Am I wrong to be POed? I really wasn't expecting this. I've done my research and food allergies are considered a disability and covered under section 504, meaning that DS can not be discriminated against and must be provided a safe learning environment.

    I basically feel like this mom is saying I value my child having a birthday cupcake over your child's life. The nurse not did indeed make it clear that the allergies are life threatening.

    I've emailed the director to get a better grasp on what the school policy is. I don't really feel very comfortable with her "We'll try to comply" statement.

    Am I totally over reacting?
    Ruth

  2. #2
    JBaxter's Avatar
    JBaxter is offline Pink Diamond level (15,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    All notes SHOULD come from the school I would be annoyed if another parent emailed me on an email addy I only listed for school and then gave me a recipe to use. Many Many parents work 40+hrs a week and pick up the cupcakes/cookies at a bakery because they simpley dont have time to stay up and bake 30 cupcakes after work/homework/dinner/family time. Im sure they are looking at it from their kiddos point of view being one child can keep theirs from having a special treat. Is that fare ... no but I can see where the other parents are coming from. Im sure the parents will try to keep to your childs safe list but they dont want to be held liable for a mistake. I would not sign it. I know lots of parents who dont read every lable ( like I do) It may truely be an accident the bring a forbidden item in but I can see how signing a paper seems "legal" My childs issues are not life threating but I pack him a party bag so I ensure he only gets what I want.
    How do you address lunches? What if he sits next to someone with a "banned" substance? We are dye free/organic so my goal with Nathan is just that if I forget his "approved" granola bar has nut products it would be a accident but if in a rush I tossed it in his lunch bag but it "could" happen here. Right now I have 3 kids going to school 3 different times. Mornings are crazy.
    Jeana, Momma to 4 fantastic sons

    Everything happens for a reason, sometimes the reason is you're stupid and make bad decisions

  3. #3
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Sorry if this isn't what you want to hear... My son goes to a private pre K. There is one boy who is allergic to peanuts in the class. A note was sent home stating that that due to his allergies, the class needs to be nut free. My son doesn't like PB and J. Keep that in mind, but I was a bit peeved that the whole class needs to deal with one child's issues. Some kids live on PB and J. At this age, the child with the allergies should know enough to stay away from the obvious allergens, and should have an epi pen kept at school just in case.

    I wonder how the mom of this kid in DS's class deals with going to the mall-- what if they eat at a table and the person who just ate there had a bag of nuts??? Or the grocery store- there are plenty of bins of nuts around.

    I personally don't blame the other mom for being defensive and peturbed. She feels like I feel, but she just had a forum to tell you and I have to suck it up and 'play nice in the sandbox'... I'm off on a tangent, sorry for hijacking, but I guess this is the way of the world now...

    Ruth
    Proud Mommy to Cole and Brooke

  4. #4
    nfowife is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    When I taught, there was a child at the school with a life-threatening peanut allergy. The way it was set up was that the entire school was supposed to be peanut free in terms of blatant nuts (like no peanut butter, reeses candy, that type of thing). In his classroom it went much further. Besides being 100% no nuts, if you went into the classroom you had to step on this special shoe-washing mat and wash your hands at the door. The child also left each day right before lunch and was homeschooled the 2nd half of the day because he really couldn't be 100% safe in the cafeteria during lunchtime. The school district provided him with a computer for his home, materials, the assignments, and the teacher of the classroom would conference with the mom in terms of what he missed that 2nd half.
    That all said, every family with a child in the classroom was approached before the year began, apprised of the situation, and had to agree to the terms set forth. It didn't seem to be a problem in our school, but when I started there he was in 2nd grade so by then maybe the system was in place and there weren't so many feathers being ruffled.
    I'm sorry you are having some issues. Your child has just as much right to be there as they do, hopefully you can find an appropriate solution and safe placement for your son.
    M, mommy to A 2005, E 2007, and L 2010

  5. #5
    bcafe is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    My DS has a peanut allergy. When the time comes for him to go to school, I will not be worried about him staying away from the allergen. I will be worried about others inadvertantly exposing him to peanuts. A five year old child does not know if another five year old has just washed his peanut butter fingers. Maybe parents would change their thinking if they witnessed a child having an anaphylactic reaction.
    ETA: DD LOVES PB&J. In fact, that is all she would eat if possible. However, when DS was diagnosed with the allergy we switched to cashew butter and she is none the wiser. There are alternatives and I would absolutely be willing to subsidize an alternative to peanut butter if it would keep my child safe in school.

  6. #6
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Wow, I'm sorry that the other mom's response upset you. My older daughter has a boy in her pre-school class that has life-threatening allergies. We weren't asked to sign anything, but were advised to not bring any nuts or peanut butter to class. Honestly, it is a pain for us....we're vegetarians so PB&Js are an easy meat-free lunch. In my opinion, though, it is certainly something I can get over to try to keep a child safe! I can't imagine how difficult it is for parents who have a child with such severe allergies and IMO it is silly for my husband and me to complain about not bringing nuts to school.

    Maybe in the future you could tell the nurse, teachers, and school director that you have information and recipes available for anyone who is interested, instead of contacting the parents directly. That might rub me the wrong way on a bad day. ;)


    Laura
    Sweet Big Sister Feb 2005
    Sweet Baby Sister April 2007

  7. #7
    jenmcadams is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I am blessed to have kids free of allergies, but I have friends who aren't as lucky. Even though my DD far prefers her PB & Honey sandwiches to anything else I pack in her lunch, I would have been happy to comply with a peanut ban. My understanding is that there is one child with a nut allergy in her class (public full-day K), but the only restrictions placed on us was that they prefer the snacks we bring in (for the whole class to share) do not have nuts in them. My DD had a birthday the second week of school and her school allows parents to bring in a treat (we brought store bought chocolate cupcakes) and my understanding is the child with the allergy has a stash of special treats for birthday days. My DD hasn't told me about anything like a peanut free table or anything else, but it could exist.

    My DD's preschool didn't allow outside food at all -- they had a cook on staff and dealt with allergies of all types. It was definitely a nut-free facility, so I was surprised when we started at the public school that there weren't more restrictions.

    As far as whether you're overreacting, I can see how parents wouldn't want to receive direct communication from other parents about this and I can also see how they wouldn't want to sign something that requires them to comply with a policy they didn't know about when they registered (if that's the case). They also might (as some PPs mentioned) be concerned about liability. While the ADA does say your child can't be discriminated against, it's not the other parents job to provide that safe environment, it's the school's. If I feed my child nuts or peanut products in the AM and don't wash their hands well enough and your child has a reaction, would I be liable? Just some thoughts on why the person might be reacting the way they do. They may also have never known someone with severe allergies -- I think even with the increased prevalence of nut allergies, people our age sometimes don't get it. I know I never knew anyone until I was an adult with a nut allergy. Several of my friends had milk allergies, but those (typically) don't result in anaphylactic reactions, so people might not realize what an allergic reaction is like in children with nut allergies.

    As I said at the beginning of this (long-winded) post, I would have been glad to go peanut free if asked and was surprised it wasn't required. However, given the policy allows nut products, my DD's lunch invariably contains them and I sometimes feel guilty about that.
    Mom to a DD (8/02) and a DS (6/05)

  8. #8
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    The private school that I work at has one child who is severely allergic to nuts, severe enough to have 1 epi-pen in the classroom and another in the office. I am with this class for lunch everyday so I know how they do it. The child is 3 1/2 years old btw, and knows that he can not have or be around peanuts. A letter was sent out before school telling parents that children can not have any peanuts in their lunch boxes. When it is lunchtime there are 2-3 teachers in the classroom and we make sure that no one has Peanut butter or a food item with peanuts. On the first day of school another child had what appeared to be a PB sandwich, so the head teacher quickly closed it up and removed it from the room. We asked the child what it was and he said PB. The teacher called the mother and the mother said that it was soy nut butter, but they call it PB. If the teacher had been unable to get a hold of the parent/s the child would have been given some snack type items, or bread/cheese from the office. There is also usually at least one hot lunch from a child who was absent throughout the classes, so we would have figured something out.

    I know that you asked about public schools, but I thought I would share my experience with a private school.

    Ilana, aka Nana to my sweet nephew Avi

    http://lilypie.com/pic/070720/7cWO.jpg[/img]http://b3.lilypie.com/5BTxm7/.png[/img][/url]

  9. #9
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    "It is not fair that our children have to be deprived for other allergy issues."

    !?!?! WOW!???!!!

    That is disgusting. I think one child's right to life supercedes another's right to eat peanut snacks. I feel sick on your behalf that you'll need to worry about that mom's lack of human kindness. I am also disheartened that, based on pp's responses, her opinion may be shared by others. Luckily for them, the hypothetical idea of their child choking TO DEATH isn't
    a daily concern.

    My dd has a peanut allergy and this type of parent is my nightmare of what I may be dealing with when dd starts school. (she'll be 3 in Jan). Luckily, the rule here is that all public schools are peanut free. Snacks are supposed to be labeled.

    About the contact though ... I would be annoyed with the school for giving out my email. I am private and don't list our email, address, or phone number for distribution. Future correspondence should come from the school only.

    Good luck, and again I am really sorry you are stuck with trying to get through to someone like that, and I really hope the school gets through to her.


  10. #10
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I am horrified.

    I think if your dc was the one with a life threatening issue you would change your tune immediately.

    May I suggest you educate yourself on peanut allergies and anaphylaxis?

    http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/content/whatis/myths.asp




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