It’s back-to-school time! If your child has food allergies, now is the time to be pro-active and get your plans and snacks in place. Here’s how we prepare:
- Contact the school nurse/office and keep an EPI-PEN on file at the front desk.
- Make sure all medical forms are filled out and complete with the front office.
- Know your school’s allergy policy. Make sure there is an allergy policy.
- Make contact with the child’s teacher (s) and make sure they all know about your child’s allergy, and what the steps are to keep him/her safe. Keep it simple here.
- Talk to your child about saying “no” to all classroom treats. This is tough, but it’s the ONLY way to stay safe at school.
- Use an allergy bracelet for your child.
- Keep an EPI-PEN inside your child’s backpack at all times so it is easily accessible. I like to keep ours in an AllerMates case – it has our phone number and contact information inside.
- Build the treat box and have fun with it. We decorated ours with stickers, and I made a special trip to the grocery store with just my daughter so she could take her time choosing treats. They better be good, after all, they are replacing classroom birthday treats! That’s a big deal!
Our treat box is filled with:
- Simply Balanced fruit leathers from Target
- Hostess Ding-Dongs
- Little Bites Brownies
- Little Bites Party Cakes
- Enjoy Life Chocolate Candy-Bars
Our treat box will be kept inside the classroom for the entire school year. These snacks will replace Birthday treats, holiday treats, party treats and any other time a treat or snack is brought into the class. We used the same size last year and only had to fill it one time. At the end of the year, we had about 6 treats left over.
I also like to reference this website to help prepare for the school year. It can be especially helpful if your school doesn’t have a comprehensive allergy policy.
Food Allergy Resource Center – I thought this article below was a good reminder, too.
Food Allergy Tips for Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs).
Today, one in 13 children has food allergies, and nearly 40 percent of these children have experienced a severe or lifethreatening reaction. Many of these reactions happen at school. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a vital part of the school community, providing an organized family and community component.
As a PTO or PTA leader, you can be a powerful voice for your children and other children, advocating for their health, safety, education and overall well-being.
Children with food allergies need your support to ensure their safety and inclusion. From classroom parties, to school family nights, to after-school fundraisers, keep in mind that all students in the community should be able to participate safely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published National Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools, available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC. The recommendations below are a few examples of recommended
practices to help ensure students with food allergies are safely included. We encourage you to review the complete list of the CDC’s Recommended Practices, on pages 41–43 of the guidelines available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC.
• Avoid the use of identified allergens in class parties, holidays, celebrations, crafts, snacks or rewards.
• Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts, awards, and fundraisers.
• When possible, avoid ordering foods from restaurants because food allergens may be present, but unrecognized.
Have ingredient information readily available for all pre-packaged and/or catered food items.
• Do not exclude children with food allergies from events or extra-curricular activities.
• Make sure that food allergy policies and practices address foods available during fundraisers, class parties, at
athletic events and during after-school programs.
• Have rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors in cases of emergency and train staff to use them.
Did you know?
Food allergies may constitute a disability under the law. Children with food allergies are entitled to an equal opportunity to participate in all school programs and events including extra-curricular activities. This usually applies to activities held by groups such as PTOs and PTAs. (See Section 5 of the CDC guidelines for more information on federal laws that pertain to food allergies.)
Sun flowers are so important to us nut allergic families. Sun butter is our alternative to peanut butter.
Have a great first day back to school. I hope your preparations put your mind at ease a little.