'Peanut Allergy Princess' is the story of one mom, one Princess with food allergies (to peanuts and brazil nuts) and our journey through the stress of life with food allergies. Here you will find many recipes, tips on living (and enjoying life) with food allergies, thoughts from a mother of 3 kids (The Brothers and The Princess) and insights into our life. Welcome!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

School Safety

With the diagnosis of food allergies, there comes a host of other concerns. Many of these secondary concerns deal with school. There are places that people with food allergies just avoid so as not to put themselves in danger. Obviously, school is not one of those places. Sending a food allergic child to school can be down-right scary! Especially when the child is young and is still learning about their food allergies and how to manage them on their own. 

While checking out food allergy blogs today... I came across this on The Food Allergy Mama's website. This is just a clip - click here for the entire article. 

"I’ve said it before but it’s worth mentioning again; classrooms ARE NOT secondary lunchrooms. They are a child’s safe haven, a place to learn and socialize in an inclusive, positive environment. I’ve never advocated for food bans, especially in school lunchrooms. My son also has a severe dairy allergy, and I would never expect any school to ban milk, or cheese from children’s lunches. John knows it is HIS responsibility in the lunchroom to eat at a peanut free table and to wash his hands and not share food. However, the gray area lies within the classroom. Schools should consider more food free celebrations, and snacks in the classrooms should be free of potentially deadly allergens. To the reader who posted the comment above, and to any other mom or dad who is annoyed at possibly having to buy certain snacks for the classroom only, I would hope they could try for just a moment to consider the food allergic child, and that no granola bar or cupcake is worth losing a child over. Ever.

When I read the above blog comment, it saddened me that we can’t all just come together and put these children’s lives first, and think about what’s best for them, not what’s best and more convenient for parents. We need to think more logically and compassionately about the issue of food allergies in schools. I respect and value the opinions of non FA parents who wish to fight these types of changes in schools, but I hope that they can respect our food allergic children’s lives and well-being too. Change isn’t easy, but it is possible to do with everyone’s support from the top down, as long as the right information is put out, and more people are educated that food allergies are not a choice or a dietary fad."

Reading this article reminded me of a conversation I heard while at a PTA function. Two mothers were discussing their frustration and inconvenience at having to accommodate a child with Celiacs during the end of the year pizza party for that particular grade. They were annoyed at the added cost of having to bring in a gluten-free pizza. They talked about how, if this child (who happened to only be 7), CHOSE to eat this way, they ought to get used to being "special". This child should get used to sitting out of special parties and celebrations because of their "choice" to eat gluten-free. I chose not to make a scene and argue my point as I was so shocked and saddened at the thought of what The Princess (and other kids with food allergies and intolerances) have to face and deal with on a daily basis. I felt sorry for this child, who I'm sure just wanted to celebrate with the rest of their classmates and feel included.

I am with The Food Allergy Mama in that I do not support school-wide bans on peanuts (or other allergens). But I am a firm believer in keeping food out of classrooms (as much as possible). A friend and I took this issue to our school Principal last year and had a very open discussion about why we felt it was important and how food allergic kids could be safer at school.  Even thought The Princess is not in school yet, I would like to have policies and procedures in place BEFORE she starts school to ease the stress on both of us when we get to that point. Although our Principal listened and discussed the issue with us, I didn't feel like many changes would be made. When the new school year started, I was pleasantly surprised to see many of the teachers had opted for "food-free" Birthday celebrations. Even though there are other times when food is brought into the classroom, I felt that this was a step in the right direction.

I was not prepared for the amount of backlash my friend and I would receive when others learned we had spoken to the principal on this issue. I never imagined that this would be so hotly debated and so personal to some people. I feel like I am understanding of others points of view and would ask that others be understanding of why this issue is so important to me. When it comes to the safety of my daughter, I will not back down and will do whatever it takes to keep her safe - especially at school. 

Food in the classroom (and food bans) are a hot topic in many areas of the country as food allergies become more common. While I am grateful that so much progress has been made, there is much work to be done to educate society about food allergies (and other dietary intolerances that aren't 'choice'). I agree with The Food Allergy Mama that change can happen but it will require an open-mind and a willingness to see another perspective. 



  1. Keep attempting to work with the school and I hope slowly people will be more accepting of the changes that are needed! Keep up the good work to make it safe for that little Princess!