For parents of children with a serious or life-threatening food allergy, sending their child to school everyday includes an added fear that most of us don’t have to deal with. While they can monitor and plan their children’s intake at home, sending them to school with other children’s lunches, snacks, and birthday celebrations can be an anxiety provoking idea. Added to that is the stress of class trips, substitute teachers, and goody-bag treats.
New Jersey is a state that has published statewide guidelines for school food allergy management. Therefore, each school is also expected to have policies that address the specific needs of students with food allergies to create a safe environment. It’s important to understand that even if only one child has an allergy, the school must provide safety policies that may effect the entire class.
As such, many schools have in fact become nut-free, provide a nut-free lunch table, or ban nut products altogether and provide a safe snack list that parents must adhere to. Most children in these schools don’t miss the free access to nut products. However, historically, parents continue to complain about their schools’ restrictions and find issue with limiting their own child’s snack and lunch options.
Like other hidden illnesses, people are often quick to discredit or misunderstand the issues and risks associated with it. Lack of knowledge about food allergies can cause animosity between parents and lead to issues for the children affected by it. Like other illnesses, the best way to close the gap between parents and children is through education and understanding.
To help the educational process, you can request that the school inform the students and their parents about food allergies in general, the varying degrees of allergy and the risks involved. The student does not need to be and should not be identified or singled out. Once the school is on board with regulations that are satisfactory to create a safe environment, parents should request that the rest of the school parents be contacted and made aware of the rules and the importance of them.