Is Your School Designated Peanut-Free?
Many schools are completely PEANUT-FREE. Due to the high increase in life threatening peanut allergies, this could be your school next. How do you accommodate this in your school? We will highlight some peanut facts along with how a parent can adapt to the peanut-free rules.
There seems to be a wide misconception among school officials and parents regarding peanut allergies. When a child with a peanut allergy comes in contact with a peanut product, they can have mild symptoms such as skin irritations (hives), swollen lips, swollen tongue and gastrointestinal distress. This seems to be what people in general think. Children with peanut allergies can also experience far more dangerous symptoms like anaphylactic reactions, which include, but are not limited to, difficulty breathing, vomiting, cramping, swelling of the mouth and throat area, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms can develop rapidly and can be life-threatening.
Here are the facts:
- Peanut allergies are the most common food allergy.
- Allergies to peanuts affect 1.5% of children (more than 3 million Americans).
- The percentage of children with peanut allergies has more than tripled in just over a decade. These results show that there is an alarming increase in peanut allergies.
- Reactions can be life-threatening, and the only treatment is to avoid all traces of peanuts and other peanut-containing products.
- School administrators, teachers, parents, and coaches, those involved in children’s activities, need to be very sensitive to these statistics.
- As little as 1/1000 of a single nut can cause an allergic reaction.
- Many schools have a PEANUT-FREE zone or are going completely PEANUT-FREE.
Elementary schools, middle schools and high schools are all being proactive when it comes to peanut allergies. Not only are these schools going peanut-free inside the school, they are going so far as to require PEANUT-FREE FUNDRAISING outside of the school. Van Wyk Confections, a supplier of chocolate fund raising candy bars, recognizes the growing demand of peanut-free items. All their chocolate bars are certified peanut-free, which means that the facility has no peanut containing ingredients used in the facility and the facility has rigorous quality control processes in place to ensure its peanut-free status.
School Policies Vary from School to School
Schools have different policies regarding peanut products on school property. These include:
No Policy: There are no restrictions when and where peanuts can be.
Peanut-Free Classroom: If a particular student is highly allergic to peanuts, a classroom may decide to have the entire room be classified as peanut-free.
Peanut-Free Lunch Tables: Designated lunch tables are dedicated peanut-free to help reduce cross-contamination while eating lunch.
Peanut-Free School: The entire school is designated peanut-free. No one should bring onto school property any peanut items, even for their own personal consumption. This is most common in pre-K schools.
So, what can you do?
Educate yourselves, even if this doesn’t directly affect you. We can’t ignore the statistics. Read labels. Teach your children to wash hands, don’t share their food and to look out for their friends. By working in partnership with students, staff, parents and school health professionals to remove peanuts from the school property, schools are creating a safe environment that minimizes the risks of negative health consequences for students with peanut allergies. Ultimately, schools strive to be the place where children can grow, learn and be a kid. Education and communication is critical.