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  1. #21
    cvanbrunt's Avatar
    cvanbrunt is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    My daughter is just two and we haven't had any allergy issues come up and I'm really grateful for that. I've avoided nuts to try and prevent them. It would be naive of me to say I can understand how hard this is for you. It must be difficult, to say the least. I have no problem with your son's need for a safe a learning environment and to not be exposed to items that are life-threatening to him. Fair enough. He's entitled to the accommodations so he should have them,absolutely. The argument "It is not fair that our children have to be deprived for other allergy issues" is silly in light of the seriousness of your son's allergies but I've got to say, though, the approach you have described would annoy me as well.

    You live with these allergies every day. Many people do not. You state that your son has multiple food allergies. How long is the list of forbidden food? Is it possible that the list encompasses a variety of foods that might make it more difficult for people to pack a lunch? I certainly don't think a preference for peanut butter sandwiches supercedes your son's right to be healthy; but what seems to be missing is an acknowledgement on your part that these restrictions might range from a minor inconvenience to a real difficulty for the other parents who are trying to feed their kids the way they see fit. Yes, I know that its just few meals in the scheme of things but people are being asked to alter their lifestyle for your son. Being presented with a list of things and asked to sign that they understand suggests that I am now liable if something sneaks through the door. I wouldn't sign it either unless you signed a waiver absolving me of responsibility for any allergic reaction your son might have. I think that's where the "We'll try to comply" statement is coming from. I would try really hard but I'm not willing to be held responsible for an honest mistake. I'm guessing you were trying to reach out to the other parents in the classroom with your note. However, I understand what anaphylaxis is and I understand what fatal means. I don't need any further "education". It's a little insulting. Sending along a list of recipes is a bit presumptuous. Not only do I now have to keep some one else's allergies in mind when I'm grocery shopping, but now I should consider making their favorites? That's probably not what you meant but I can easily see that interpretation.

    Nobody wants to see your son get sick. Your family has already made the necessary adjustments to keep him healthy. You should give others a chance to make them too without assuming they don't care about his welfare. I hope it works out well for the little guy.

  2. #22
    bisous is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Wow. While I see the point that it might have been better coming from the school directly instead of from you, I'm having a really hard time understanding the kind of attitude that you encountered. All I can say is that I would seriously hope that my child understood that someone's life is more important than their preference for a particular cupcake. I'm sorry that you have to live with such uncertainty in regards to the daily safety of your child and I hope you find that the majority of the respondents are more than happy to follow your suggestions. I would be.

    Jen

  3. #23
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I'm not quite sure how to respond at this point. Part of me is knee jerk angry, and part of me is thankful that there are some people who get it.

    I'm going to try to be big about this while typing through blurred vision b/c I'm that upset that so many people don't get it.

    First I'll preface and say that my email to parents was off of a public list and it was to clarify the change in the classroom procedure. I had spoken at the preschool OH and origianaly said that I was comfortable with egg products. (DS allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, sesame, and soy.) I said I was comfortable with this so that kids could have their bday cupcakes, but DS would bring his own. The school nurse said that was absolutely not safe and sent the letter home to parents. To avoid confusion and to apologize (which I didn't have to do but did in kindness) I sent the email out to explain the change. So it wasn't as if I made the policy, or sent people an email blindly.

    The preschool provides snacks. The only thing affected here are parties and classroom bday celebrations. Which I should point out are not a necessity.

    I want to thank "everyone" for responding good and bad. It's made it clear to me that many people really don't get it so I obviously need to advocate more. It's a fine line in trying to be fair to others and advocate for my son.

    For those of you that do get it, thank you for the support, the information, those great letters that I think I will use..I'd love to know that mom...and for your experiences, words of wisdom, and kindness.

    For those that don't get it, please read all of these posts. I read the ones I didn't want to read or hear. I really can't explain it any better than some of these moms did. Stop being ignorant and educate yourself. Would you want your child to come home and say my pbj caused another kid to die?? Do you want that on you or your child? I think if you explained to your children why they couldn't have pbj they would be far more compassionate about it than you.

    My son could die if he comes into contact with his allergens. I'm sorry for anyone who it put out that one child makes the rule for all. But I care more about my son's life than your child getting to have a special treat or pbj sandwich.

    I could post more, but I think I need to stop for now and digest this and drive the boys to preschool.

    Thanks again for the kind posts.
    Ruth

  4. #24
    LarsMal is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I am coming in late on this one and I have to say that I am both shocked and saddened by the mother's email in the PP and some other posts in this thread. It boggles my mind that some people would find avoiding a certain food product for the sake of another child's life annoying and inconvenient.

    If the tables were turned and it was your child, wouldn't you do everything in your power to create a safe environment for your child?

    A friend of mine just started her DD in a school that was not nut free. At the back-to-school meeting the director actually asked her to come and speak in front of the parents. She explained her daughter's allergies and what the parents needed to do. She was met with a lot of questions, but none of the parents argued the issue. Since school started two weeks ago, they have decided to go completely nut free.

    I don't find Ruth's email to be out of place at all. I think she had every right to inform the parents of her child's allergies.

    I am honestly very saddened right now. DS has severe egg and dairy allergies, complete with some pretty severe reactions. Luckily, so far, he has tested negative for pn/tn allergies. I am scared to death to send him to preschool next year, and reading some of the responses here, I think I am justified in being scared! For us, a pn/tn free classroom or school wouldn't do anything. I highly doubt I'll find an egg/dairy free school. I just hope I can find a school with not only a supportive director/staff, but a supportive parental community as well.

    Knowing what I now know about food allergies, I wish I could go back to my former students with FA and apologize to the parents for not being more educated/understanding. Before I had a child with FA I was one of those people who brushed off severe allergies. I went through epi pen training at school, but didn't think much of it. When a parent took her child out of our private school b/c she just didn't think his dairy free table at lunch was enough, I thought she was being ridiculous. Now I know and understand the constant fear and stress of dealing with a child with severe allergies on a day-to-day basis.

    Ruth, you just have to brush it off as ignorance and try your best to educate the parents in your child's school in a positive way, through the director/staff if necessary. Until they've walked in your shoes they honestly don't know the severity and the danger, and most of all the fear.

    Good luck!




  5. #25
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    schums is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Let me preface my reply by saying I get it. I really do. My DC don't have FA, thank goodness, but I do understand your worry, as I have them (very mild).

    However, your son does have a rather long list of FA. Nothing you can do about it -- it's just a fact. This would make it VERY difficult for a parent to provide a birthday snack for their child to bring in. Pretty much every food you buy at a store has soy in it any more, and eggs are a very common ingredient too. For parents that work FT or just don't cook/bake, trying to comply with a list like this would be VERY difficult. Ditto for schools that only allow pre-packaged foods in the classroom. Are all of DS's FA severe/life threatening or just the PN/TN?

    I agree that birthday treats are not a necessity, but are a fun thing to have. Perhaps the school needs to adopt a "no outside food" policy and they'll provide a special treat on birthdays. Or, if there are some FA that are not as severe for DS (i.e. only cause a reaction if actually ingested), allow those food products in the classroom but still provide a seperate snack for DS.

    GL,
    Sarah
    Mom to Alex (3/2002) and Catherine (8/2003)

  6. #26
    SnuggleBuggles is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    just wanted to say that our school doesn't allow outside food for b-days. They make something in class. There have been 2 b-days already and one day they had ice cream and blueberries the other day they had strawberries and some sort of dip. The kids all get to help the b-day treat.

    There was a child in his class last year who couldn't eat gluten. It was not life threatening. When bringing in snacks we just brought him an alternative.

    Beth

  7. #27
    purpleeyes is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I would not be offended my an email, if it was a follow up to an official letter. I would appreciate the tips and recipes as well. My child attends a peanut free preschool and it has never been a problem. I believe it encourages people to consider healthier snacks for birthday parties, etc. as well.

    I absolutely cannot believe the selfishness of some people who put a birthday cupcake above a child's life and quite frankly, I am offended and upset for you. I hope some of the responses on this thread and the email you received are the only negative responses you get and things go smoothly at school.

    Keep us posted. I will be thinking of you.

    Beth
    B

    DS
    DD

  8. #28
    o_mom is online now Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    I can see a couple reasons for their reaction. First is the liability issue. It is one thing to tell parents that they can't bring certain foods, and I think that is perfectly appropriate. However, I would be hesitant to sign something that could be used against me if I accidently sent something with nuts/egg/soy/etc. Product labels change and things that were previously fine may not be now. Additionally, things like eggs hide under different ingredient names and people who are not used to looking for them may miss them.

    Second is the appearance that the policy is coming from you and not the school. From your second post, it sounds like you have talked to the parents and e-mailed them, so they may be getting the impression that you are the one making policy.

    As far as their child being deprived, they can deal with it and just be grateful that it is only a few snacks a year they have to worry about it and not everyday.

    Our preschool has a classroom that is peanut free. DS is not in that room, so I have no idea what all the restrictions areother than no peanut snacks. One preschool I looked at was completely peanut and tree nut free. I know that my cousin's kid's school has a peanut free table at lunch. It is heavily monitored, kids cannot have any peanut products and there is no food trading allowed.
    Mama to three boys ('03, '05, '07)

  9. #29
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    My DS's school is completely nut free (private, not public). The whole facility is to the point that it is not allowed anywhere on the grounds including the sports fields. For birthday celebrations, the kids have enjoyed ice pops, jello, rice krispy treats (store bought), etc... There are plenty of options. My DS understands how serious it can be if one of his friends is exposed to it and makes a conscience effort to wash his hands and face before leaving the home if he has pb in the morning. I have made him soy nut butter jelly sandwiches and he loves them. My sister told me that the prominent summer camp where she works in the season serves the kids soy nut butter and jelly sandwiches and the kids are none for the wiser.

    The way I see it is that kids are allergic. Some are really allergic. I have environmental allergies and it sucks when I am exposed to things. I can't help a lot of that. But we can control food. Rather than taking the attitude of "it will always be out there- what do you then (insert scenario here)?", I see it as what can *I* do to help prevent a child from getting very sick or dying? I try my best. And when my DS is in class with that child or is a friend of that child, we do our best to be as safe as possible. Just my 2 cents....
    -Melissa
    Mom to M (2002) & M (2014)

  10. #30
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    Default RE: Food Allergies and Public Schools ??

    Thank you for your post.

    I am fully aware that he has a long list of allergies that are difficult to deal with. I live through it everyday.

    However my problem is with the fact that parents find the need for their children to have cupcakes, cookies, etc. when it could affect the life of a child.

    Yes treats are fun. But when weighting a treat is fun or a kid could die, I'm appalled that anyone needs to think twice about it.

    I feel for parents who have to work and don't have time to bake. I was in no way implying that they should. I simply stated in my email that in the event parents "wanted" to bring in cupcakes or cookies I had recipes that I would be happy to pass along and that Cherrybrook Kitchen makes great egg free mixes. I honestly was trying to make a tough situation easier.

    As other posters have said, the celebration should be about the bday or holiday and not about food. It's just as easy to have strawberries with choc sauce or whipped cream. So yes, perhaps there should be a no food policy. At this point I'm all for it. Of course those same parents would then complain about the lack of any food. It seems that I can't satisfy anyone.

    I should mention (since you asked about severity) that many doctors are now considering any allergic reaction risk for anaphylaxis. If my son gets hives, there is a chance that an hour later he could stop breathing. It's not always an instant thing. So doctor's don't test how allergic a child is but whether they are allergic or not period.

    Again, I thank you for yout post and am not trying to be "nasty" if that's how it's coming across. I'm just really amazed that snacks come before a child's safety for some.

    I mean, I could bring up a whole other can of worms in regards to disabilities that we have learned to live with and accomodate for that aren't even life threatening.

    Ruth

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