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  1. #11
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    ilovetivo is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Gatorruth - Let me preface this by saying I'm not flaming. I'm just informing.

    I believe classrooms should be food free, not just peanut free or whatever. No child should have to be in constant fear of "what if" while they are trying to learn. Peanut free or any allergy free room/school just leaves the door open to people smuggling stuff in "just because" or "I forgot" or "I didn't have time to read the label". An education is every child's right. Each child is different and each child may have different accommodations that need to be made to learn in a safe and comfortable environment. Whether they be food allergies or wheelchair access or they can't see the board etc. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act says "Students with a disability are by law afforded a “free and appropriate public education.? A food allergy may be considered a disability under this law." (http://www.foodallergyinitiative.com...b_section_id=3)

    With all due respect, 5 year olds with food allergies may be very aware of their allergens, however, they do not know what's in another child's lunch, if they've washed up etc. They're only 5. Even 25 year olds don't know how to stay away from their allergens 100% of the time. Please see my post with the terribly long and very sad list of fatal food allergy reactions in people of all ages...people that are very very aware of their allergens. http://www.windsorpeak.com/dc/dcboar...opic_id=396578

    For me, I don't let my daughter sit at any public table without washing it down well first with Wet Ones or something similar. I don't let her walk around the grocery store. We don't go down the aisle with the bulk bins of nuts (dust in the air), we have a cart cover on the grocery cart. I know I can speak for a lot (if not most) FA moms when I say precautions are taken everywhere we go. Some places we just don't go and some things we just don't do. The risks are too high.

    Here's a great letter from a non-food allergic parent. It might help you understand where FA parents come from. I didn't not write it and I do have permission to reprint it. She says it much better than I could.

    --------
    Dear Parents and Guardians:

    I am writing this letter to you because your school has decided to implement a ban on peanuts, tree nuts, and/or other foods that have been associated with life-threatening allergies, and I know the initial reaction you may have regarding such a ban.

    I am the mother of a little girl who started school this year. About two weeks before school started I read in a local newspaper that the school she will be attending has decided to put such a ban into effect.

    My first reaction was one of shock, but it quickly turned into complete ANGER! I couldn’t believe that the school would actually do something that drastic because ONE child had an allergy. Since when did the misfortunes of one dictate the rule for the majority? I rallied support together, I wrote to the newspapers, I called television stations, and I put up posters expressing my outrage and encouraging parents who felt the same way to attend the next school board meeting and “let our voices be heard?. I even drafted up petitions to have the members of the school board removed so that a new school board could be elected, one that looked out for the needs of every child instead of just one. After all, nobody was going to tell me that I couldn’t send my picky eater to school with a peanut butter sandwich! Then I went online to get some ammunition.

    What I got however, was something completely different. I got an education. I stumbled across a site for people with life-threatening allergies and the parents of children with life-threatening allergies. The first thing I found out was that, although rare, it is a lot more common than I had realized, but being angry I posted my question, Do they really think that a ban is necessary?. I used all my arguments. If a child is allergic to bees, do you keep all the kids in at recess? If a child is in a wheel chair, do you build a ramp or tear out the stairs? I mean after all, there are other allergies out there, and there is no way to guarantee that the school will be completely free from these foods, so where do you draw the line?

    At first I wasn’t open at all to hear their reply, I was just venting, but then I really started reading what they had to say, and it was then that I started learning. You see… I put my daughter on the bus for the first time in her life. I was afraid she wouldn’t find her classroom. I was afraid she would forget to raise her hand before she spoke. I was afraid she would get on the wrong bus coming home, but what I wasn’t afraid of was that I would get a call from the school saying that my daughter wouldn’t be coming home; she is being rushed to the hospital by ambulance because of a common, everyday peanut butter sandwich. It was then that I realized what these parents are going though. Some don’t have the luxury of worrying about little things.

    These parents aren’t trying to take anything away from our kids; they are trying to keep their kids safe. I looked back at my initial reaction so I could figure out what had made me so mad, and when I was completely honest with myself, I found the answer. I was mad because I was going to be inconvenienced. I was willing to put a child’s life in danger so my daughter could eat a sandwich, and what did that say about me? I mean, if I saw a dog attacking any child wouldn’t I do whatever I could to protect that child? And if that is the case, why am I so opposed to eliminating peanut butter from 5 meals out of the 21 she will have in the course of a week?

    The fact of the matter is you don’t keep all the kids in at recess, but you don’t put a child with a bee sting allergy in a lunchroom full of bees either.

    The fact is EVERY child is entitled to a “free and appropriate public education in a least restrictive environment?, translated that means the school has a legal responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for ALL children, and where do you draw the line? You draw the line when the unique needs of the community served by the school have been met.

    It’s not easy to put your child in the hands of strangers when you know that many of them may have just eaten, or are bringing to lunch, the same thing that is poison to your child, and many of these parents would home school if they could, but just like you and I, sometimes that is not an option.

    The parents of children with life-threatening allergies don’t expect us all to learn this over night, and they don’t expect us to shop for our children as if they had this allergy, and while they know that the school will never be completely free from these foods, one less sandwich, or one less snack containing these foods being brought into the schools, will be one less risk to their child’s life.

    I am not saying that it hasn’t been a struggle at times, but you have to ask yourselves… Is convenience really more important than life? In my book, that answer is no, so any small inconvenience I have is worth it.
    Sincerely,
    Lisa Turner
    DD 7 - outgrew dairy allergy 6/13/11 - She had FPIES http://bit.ly/WhatIsFPIES

  2. #12
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Wow...That letter was so well stated! Tyler and Jackson both have severe nut allergies and egg allergies. I was just at the allergist today with Tyler discussing ways to keep the boys "safer" in public places.

    Before having a child with allergies I probably would have thought that some of the precautions were overkill but I would have done them for the well being of the child. I hate that any kid might have to go without because of my child's allergy but at least they can go home and enjoy that treat! I am so sad that my boys will never enjoy a PB&J Sandwitch or a Snickers candy bar! :(

    Tara
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  3. #13
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Just trying to understand this better, but the link you gave seems to dismiss some of the fears that result in turning schools into peanut-free zones. For example it says that the smell of peanut butter did not trigger reactions in any of these cases and that neither did nut dust. There has not been a rise in fatal reactions (at least in Ontario) and none have occured in schools since 1994 (again, we're just talking Ontario here). All of this is on the Answers page http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/content/whatis/myths_quiz.asp

    I understand your reaction to the previous post, but also feel as if some of the reasons for insisting that no other child even have pb are called into question in the link you provided.

    Our experience, public and private, is that the schools themselves have not provided any peanut products whatsoever. Within each classroom it is decided whether children can bring it in their own lunch. PB&J is on the ok list for both of the classes my kids are in this year, but over the summer it wasn't. It's also been my experience that it's the family of the child with the allergy who is responsible for providing alternative snacks rather than insisting that all parents use only approved recipes when bringing food into class.

    -M

  4. #14
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Ruth - if you go to www.kidswithfoodallergies.org there's great posts about 504's, working with other parents (resistant or not), school board etc.

    Here's some info on FA plans in my area and others
    http://www.doe.mass.edu/cnp/allergy.pdf (most definitive in the country)
    http://www.wilmette39.org/specialser...lergyguide.pdf (most extensive)
    http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=41990&src=3
    http://www.ahsd25.k12.il.us/food_ser...yProcedure.pdf
    http://ww1.northbrook28.net/administ...lergyguide.pdf
    http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PD..._Allergies.pdf

    There's great info on http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org...b_section_id=4

    and on http://www.illinoisfaea.org/

    My dd's in preschool. They're peanut and nut free. My dd also has life threatening reactions to milk. They serve food/snacks in the classrooms (the whole school is 1 big room divided into 4 "classrooms". For her specific class, they don't serve dairy items or foods with milk products or derivatives in the (per the label). We provide her food. They wash hands when they come into school, after playing outside, before ad after eating. The class that goes to the playground with dd's also washes their hands when they get to school. No food is allowed in the school at all, other than what the director buys...not even siblings coming with parents to drop off the kids. We have many many FA kids in our school, but dd is the only on in her class of 12. All FA kids have emergency food action plans and medication (including epi) at school, which is easily & quickly accessible and in an unlocked area. All FA communication came from the school. In October, they're going to teach all the kids in the school about food allergies.

    Contact FAAN foodallergy.org for a preschool FA kit, if your school doesn't already have one.

    Hugs!
    DD 7 - outgrew dairy allergy 6/13/11 - She had FPIES http://bit.ly/WhatIsFPIES

  5. #15
    lilycat88 is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    DD is in a large private preschool and she has an egg allergy. There are other children in the school with food allergies as well. We are lucky that, to this point, DDs reaction has not been life threatening. At our school, bans on foods (peanuts specifically) aren't "school wide" but on a classroom by classroom basis. There are peanut free rooms but they haven't had to go to a peanut free facility yet for any reason. Even with a child with a food allergy, I would have probably been a little miffed about receiving communication directly from a parent.

    That being said, I do wish sometimes the school/her teachers were a bit more "strong" on the allergy front. I take in food substitutes for days when something is on the menu that she can't have. Birthdays are a pain, though...and painful to watch my daughter not be able to have what others have even though I take in a substitute she likes just as much or more. The parents in her class were informed that there was a child with an egg allergy (and everyone knows who it is since the kids have been together since last August) and asked to bring in something egg free for bithdays but only 1-2 make any effort. Quite frankly, it's not always a "time" issue in my opinion. It's just as easy to grab some ice cream sundae cups or popscicles or one of the packaged cookies (even Keebler makes one) that don't have eggs in them as it is to buy a bunch of cupcakes. The school doesn't allow anything not commercially prepared and discourages actual "cakes" due to the PITA factor of cutting, etc. What's even more frustrating to me is that her class is full of children of "medical" parents who know full well the seriousness. There is a peds urologist...a peds gastro...an anesthesiologist...a heart transplant surgeon... And they are actually the worst offenders. Luckily, DD is a strong and understanding little girl. She knows that "eggs make her tummy hurt" and she knows exactly what menu items she is not allowed to have. More than once, she has stopped a new assistant from giving her food she isn't allowed to have.

    It's a tough issue for everyone and I try to understand parents' deep attachment to bringing in cupcakes for birthdays but I just don't get it. The kids (at least in preschool) don't give a hoot what treat they have. The kids are more impressed with the crown they get with their name on it than the food. I wish more places would take the emphasis off of food in the first place and focus on the event and celebration.


  6. #16
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    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.

    I'm sure you know, but for those that don't, any food can cause a life threatening reaction, not just nuts. On the list I posted, there are many that died from dairy and other non peanut/nut allergies. Also, sometimes people call lactose intolerance an allergy, when it's not.

    According to FAAN, a food allergy is an "immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful." The immune system then "trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system." Symptoms can include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, loss of consciousness and, among other things, death. A food intolerance is "an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system...[For example,] a person with lactose intolerance lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest milk sugar....[and] gas, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur."

    For those that want that "peanut butter" taste, IM Healthy Soy Nut Butter tastes exactly like peanut butter. http://www.soynutbutter.com/

    Also, if some of you have people in your lives that "still dont' get it" have them watch this:
    It's 11 minutes and important to watch, however difficult it may be. Watching it may save someone's life. http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...57414346223887

    "It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. One moment their child is perfectly healthy. The next, they’ve stopped breathing and are turning blue. For many children, the merest hint of nut is all it takes to send them into anaphylactic shock. Food allergies are on the increase and the number of children affected has more than doubled in the past ten years. Yet simple precautions could significantly cut the death rate. This week’s documentary, ‘When Food Kills’ is a wake up call to the rising danger of food allergies. "

    This amazing 45 minute documentary is from Journeyman Pictures in Australia. You can read about and purchase the documentary here http://www.journeyman.tv/?lid=19136

    ETA: funky strikethru thing


    DD 7 - outgrew dairy allergy 6/13/11 - She had FPIES http://bit.ly/WhatIsFPIES

  7. #17
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    with peanut butter, it's how sticky it is, how hard it is to clean, and can leave residue everywhere (chairs, books, tables, water fountains etc)

    To clarify my post somewhere in here, i believe in food free classrooms, not peanut free or nut free schools. However, since our school is so small, i'm glad my dd's preschool is pn/tn free - which for our school means that director buys all the food and no outside food isallowed in the school. All kids wash when they come in.
    DD 7 - outgrew dairy allergy 6/13/11 - She had FPIES http://bit.ly/WhatIsFPIES

  8. #18
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Another letter from Lisa Turner 11/05:

    I am the mother of 3 wonderful kids. The oldest of the three is in first grade this year. Thankfully none of them have food allergies. My first grader is a very picky eater; I can’t get her to eat any meat at all, with the exception of chicken nuggets and salami. Something she does love though is peanut butter and jelly. In fact its one of the only things I can get her to eat in sandwich form.

    About 2 weeks before school started for her last year I received a letter stating that peanuts and peanut products would not be allowed at the school due to a child who had a severe peanut allergy. Was I annoyed? Oh, you bet I was. I even decided to fight the ban. I called newspapers, wrote letters to the editor, called television stations and rallied other parents together who felt the same way I did and asked them to attend the school board meeting and “make our voices heard?.

    Then I went online to find ammunition. I wanted to read everything I could to be prepared at that meeting. What I wasn’t prepared for though was getting an education along the way.

    You started reading this thinking that I was going to be another ticked off mom that opposed a peanut ban. Surprise… I whole heartedly support a ban in elementary schools.

    You see, I found a site for people with life threatening allergies and I wanted to hear what they had to say so I posed my question. “Do you really think a ban is necessary?? I didn’t really care what they had to say, I was skimming through the posts looking for people who supported my argument, and surprisingly some did. But then I really looked at what everybody had to say, and they all had one thing in common. They just wanted their kids to be safe and they wanted them to be able to be kids, if only for a little while.

    The word allergy is misleading. I know when I hear the word allergy my first thought was sneezing, itchy watery eyes, maybe a few hives. You take a benadryl and there you go. Well peanut allergies are not that simple.

    Picture this, a child in the lunch room has a pb&j sandwich, that child does not wash their hands after lunch and goes out to recess where they proceed to play on the equipment. That child climbs up the slide ladder and slides down. Right behind him (her) is another child; only this one has a peanut allergy. They climb the ladder and by the time they reach the top they already have hives and itching, they know they have come in contact with peanuts. They slide down the slide and by the time they reach the bottom their airway is shut off and they cant breath, they cant run for help, they cant do anything but hope that somebody has noticed what is going on and reacts quick enough with a shot of epinephrine. Luckily the teacher does notice and has the epi-pen on hand.

    Great you are thinking right? WRONG, even though the teacher has reacted quickly and did everything she was supposed to do, that child is now waiting for an ambulance. You see, the epi-pen is not a “get out of allergy free? card. It only slows down the reaction enough to allow time for emergency medical help to arrive. The child is hanging on by a thread by the time they reach the hospital, but they make it and the doctors meet them at the door. Well here’s the other kick in the pants, there is no guarantee that they can stop anaphylaxis, and there is no guarantee that he will respond to anything they do. He could still die. All because some parent couldn’t be inconvenienced enough to remove peanut butter from one of the 5 meals their child would eat at school.

    That’s right, your child will eat 21 meals in the course of a week, only 5 of them are in school, eliminating peanut butter and peanut products from those 5 are not going to put your child in danger, but not eliminating them will put another child in danger. I can’t say that the above scenario is the exact one that will happen, there are different degrees of reactions, but you never know when the big one is going to hit.

    I know all the arguments that are going through your head, and let me go through them one by one.

    1. What if a child is allergic to bee stings, do you ban recess?
    Well, no you don't, but you don't put them in a room full of bees either. In elementary school a majority of the kids bring pb&j, for whatever reason, whether it be economical, convenient, or just because its something you don't have to fight with them to eat. Therefore the allergic child is put in a life or death situation daily. Residue is left everywhere and unless it is properly cleaned up, it can remain there for days, putting that child at risk everywhere he goes in that school.

    2. What happens when they go out in the real world?
    In the real world they do just fine. Their parents make sure to wipe things down that may be contaminated, but out in the real world they won’t be forced into a condensed area with the food that is most toxic to them. They go to parks, and beaches. They do practically everything our kids do. In a class room you wouldn’t be able to pick out which ones are allergic and which ones aren’t. They are normal everyday kids.

    3. What about all the other food allergies?
    Yes, there are other food allergies that are just as severe as peanut allergies. Some of the most common are milk, wheat, seafood, soy, sesame, and egg. However with these other allergies it is rare for them to cause an airborne reaction, or a severe contact reaction. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but not as often as it does with peanut allergies.

    4. With an allergy so severe you should home school.
    I don't know about you, but I couldn’t home school. I am not that patient. Some states require that the parent that is home schooling to be a college grad. There are single moms and dads who need to work so they can’t home school. There are many reasons why home schooling isn’t for everyone. Just because you have a child with a food allergy doesn’t make you automatically equipped to be their teacher.

    5. What about before school? What if my kid has peanut butter toast?
    Truth is, you don't have to stop your child from having peanut butter at home. You can, if you choose, be considerate enough to not to serve your child peanut butter before school, but if you do, the risk of causing a reaction in an allergic child is still smaller than a lunchroom full of the stuff. The risk is smaller still if you make sure they wash their face and hands and brush their teeth after eating it.

    6. Where do you draw the line?
    That is a very good question, because you are right, there are other food allergies. So should the school ban milk and eggs and everything else that can cause anaphylactic shock? If there are kids in the school that are allergic to them, well the answer is yes. You see the school has to provide a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Translated that means that public schools have a LEGAL obligation to provide a safe learning environment for ALL students, not just the majority. The answer to the above question is that the line is drawn when the unique needs of the community served by that school have been met.

    Look, it’s not easy to put your child in the hands of strangers when you know that some of them may have just eaten or are bringing to lunch the thing that is poison to your child, and they would home school if they could, but just like you and I, sometimes that is not an option.

    Contrary to what some of you believe; these parents are not trying to take anything away from our kids. They just want their kids to be safe and maybe a little carefree for a short time in their lives. Let’s face it. Asking kids this age to be responsible for life and death on a daily basis is just crazy, they are after all kids, and they don't always think before they act.

    These parents know that the school will never be completely free from these products, they are not stupid; and they don't expect us to shop for our children like they are the ones with this deadly allergy; but one less sandwich, one less snack containing these foods being brought to school is one less risk to their child’s life.

    All parents dealing with peanut allergies have different comfort zones. Most of them do not allow their children to eat anything other than what they (the parents) provide. When shopping for your child however, the only things that most (some) pa parents want is actual peanuts (tree nuts) and products containing peanuts to be omitted from the schools. Products that may contain or are packaged in a facility that processes peanuts are of minimal risk to their children. Their child would actually have to ingest them to have a reaction. Now there are exceptions to this rule, for instance, Granola bars are may contain (most do contain) and tend to be very sticky, if it is indeed peanut containing and the sticky residue isn’t cleaned properly, it can cause a reaction in the allergic child. I do repeat, parents have different comfort zones, some are stricter than others.


    Thinking back to last year, I put my daughter on the bus for the first time in her life and I was afraid that she wouldn’t know where to go once she got to school, and I was afraid that she would forget to raise her hand before she spoke. I was really afraid that she would get on the wrong bus coming home; of course through the year I didn’t worry about these things anymore. But the parents of children with life-threatening allergies are scared every day that this will be the day they get the dreaded call that their child is en route to the hospital because of a common everyday peanut product. They have to worry whether or not their child will ever come home again. I don't know about you, but I thank God that I don't have to send my daughter off to school everyday in fear that I will never see her alive again. These parents would love to worry about the little things.

    When I looked back at my initial reaction of being opposed to the ban, I am ashamed. When I was honest with myself, I mean completely honest, I was mad because I was going to be inconvenienced. I was willing to put a little boy’s life in danger so my daughter could eat a sandwich she liked. What does that say about me?

    I was mad because I felt like my daughter was being deprived of something she wanted, funny thing is, when I told my daughter what was going on, she was absolutely fine with not being able to take pb&j for lunch, in fact, she said she didn’t want to take it if it could hurt an other child.

    Maybe we should all take a lesson from our kids.
    DD 7 - outgrew dairy allergy 6/13/11 - She had FPIES http://bit.ly/WhatIsFPIES

  9. #19
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    bubbaray is offline Blue Diamond level (20,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??


    >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.

    Some children are so allergic to certain foods that they can't even be in the same room as PB. It d/n matter if they don't touch it or don't eat it -- its in the air. Some kids are also so allergic to PB that even with an epi pen, they might still die, that is how severe their anaphylaxis is. I'm not making this up, this is coming directly from DD#1's pediatric allergist.

    >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'...

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could all view this issue not as "sucking it up", but looking at the issue with care and compassion and doing our best to keep another child safe in this world. Because, really, if we can't treat children with disabilities with care and compassion, what has the world come to?

    JMHO

    Melissa

    DD#1: 04/2004

    DD#2: 01/2007

  10. #20
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    DD goes to a private daycare. There are no children in her class with nut allergies. There are children with milk and egg allergies, but they are not life-threatening. The entire school is nut-free (and when she brought in a soy-nut butter and honey sandwich they asked "Is this peanut butter?" to which she said yes, so they took it away temporarily and called DH, who'd dropped her off -- he told them it was soynut butter but she gets confused and they gave it back to her).

    I'm always surprised by parents who haven't run into nut-free classrooms; DD has always been in this school, so in our world, school = no nuts.

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