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Food Allergy Awareness

By Beyer, Beth

August 16, 2019

 

Student Safety:  Peanut Allergies

 

 

When most of us think about allergies, we might imagine a stuffy nose or a scratchy throat, but some people have allergies that can be life threatening.  We, in the Green City R-1 Schools, believe that our students’ health and safety are our first priority, and with that in mind we support procedures and protocols that protect students with serious allergies.

 

The district’s plan for allergy prevention and response is in accordance with House Bill 922 (2009).  This protocol is not a guarantee of an allergen-free environment; instead it is designed to increase awareness, provide education and training, reduce the chance of exposure and outline responses to allergic reactions.

 

Students with allergies that rise to the level of a disability, as defined by law, will be accommodated in accordance with district policies and procedures pertaining to the identification and accommodation of students with disabilities.  When our school has a student or students with a disability, in this case a severe allergy, we will support the students’ needs.

 

When a school learns that a child with a severe nut allergy is enrolling, the school will work with the parents and a doctor to determine the precautions and procedures needed to be put in place to support this child’s safety and well-being, depending on the severity of the allergy. 

 

Green City R-1 School District has two general categories that may be used to label a school’s nut handling level, these include:

  • Lower Exposure Risk: Nut Awareness Level (i.e. a nut-free table in the cafeteria, nut-free classrooms, extra hand-washing)
  • Higher Exposure Risk: Nut Restricted Level (i.e. restrict access of all nuts into the school at all times)

 

Just as we work to provide students with education in math, science and English, we believe students must be educated on allergen issues and how to keep classmates safe who have severe allergies.  Training is done for students each year.

 

If anyone has questions and/or concerns about the allergen procedures, please contact a building or district administrator.  The district’s goal is for all students to be safe for the hours they are in the district’s care.  This is one restriction that can be implemented to provide safety for the students. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Peanut Free Policy:  greencity.k12.mo.us

 

Board Policy 2875  Student Allergy Response and Intervention:  http://www.moconed.com/policy.php?action=ind&polID=323&catID=3

 

Peanut Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

What does Peanut-Free mean at Green City R-1?

NO

YES

  • Outside food with peanuts or peanut butter listed in the ingredients
  • Peanut Butter
  • Packaged food with labels that read “may contain traces of peanuts
  • All kinds of sandwiches that don’t have peanuts
  • Soy butter, sun butter, and non-nut butters
  • Packaged foods with labels that read “produced in a facility where peanuts may be present”
  • Packaged foods with labels that do not have peanuts or peanut butter listed in the ingredients.
  • Almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds

 

 

I know other peanut allergy sufferers and they simply have a “Peanut Free” table in the lunchroom. Why won’t this work?

It is really important to remember that each peanut allergy is unique. Children’s responses and reactions to peanuts and peanut products can be completely different from one to the next. This makes peanut allergies really different from other allergens. It has been recommended to the school by health professionals that, in this case, a peanut free environment is a necessity for the safety of our students.

 

Will peanut products ever be allowed at Green City R-1?

We will remain a peanut-free school as long as students, with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, are enrolled within the school district.

 

What about other nuts, such as almonds, cashews, etc.?

Other nuts are fine. The allergy sufferer may not be able to ingest them; however, other tree nuts do not typically show themselves as airborne allergens.

 

Can students without nut allergies bring in foods whose labels say, “Processed in a facility that also produces nuts” or “processed on a machine that also processes nuts?”

Foods labeled in this way are safe and acceptable to be brought to school.

 

How can I explain to my child that peanuts are not allowed in their school, especially when all he/she wants to take to school is peanut butter?

Empathy and compassion are the key elements here.  Help your child understand that while some allergies can be a nuisance with a low level reaction (i.e. stuffed-up noses and sneezing), students who suffer from peanut allergies can have very dangerous, even life-threatening reactions.  Explain to students that by not bringing peanut products to school, he/she is keeping other students safe.  Children will feel proud to be able to help out in this way.

 

Why is this allergy increasing?  Don’t children outgrow this?

The cause of food allergy is very complex and arises from many sources. Genetics definitely play a part. Over-consumption of a food also is a contributor. The exact reason for the increase is unknown at this time. Most children with a peanut allergy will not outgrow it.

 

What are the different ways students with peanut allergies are at risk?

Children with allergies to peanuts can have an allergic reaction through contact, airborne and/or ingestion.  A reaction can occur by touching a peanut (or peanut products), having the allergen enter through inhalation and/or by eating a food item that contains peanuts, even trace amounts.  Some students with nut allergies will have an allergic reaction through ingestion only, while others will include a reaction by contact, airborne and/or ingestion.

 

If the peanut allergy is increasing in severity, what about all other food allergies? Will we need to restrict milk and eggs at school one day too?

Typically people with anaphylaxis (severe reaction) to eggs and milk do not have an airborne reaction to milk or egg smells. In other words, they must actually ingest these foods to have a severe reaction. Peanut products are unique in that they can produce airborne anaphylactic reactions. Remember that every reaction is different. You may know someone that is allergic to ingesting peanuts, but can be around them. Our students at Green City are not that lucky. They have already had reactions to environments with peanut exposure.

 

Is it safe for my child to eat peanut products at home before coming to school?

Absolutely, your child can have peanut butter for breakfast if they wish. We ask that you make sure that students brush their teeth after eating the peanut butter product, there is no peanut residue on the clothes and the student washes the hands and face with warm soapy water.

 

What if we accidentally send a peanut product to school for lunch next year?

We expect that a mistake will be made. We will have some safeguards in place for this. The students are usually the best lunchroom monitors for these items (our staff will be there, too). No child will go hungry. Every child will be fed. We will notify parents when mistakes are made just to make sure everyone is aware of what has happened.

 
 

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