As school administrators, educators, and school nurses to create a nurturing, learning environment is challenging when major health issues such as life-threatening food allergies are present. Food allergies are a growing concern in schools across America. Education of staff, parents/guardians and students can assist in increasing awareness and maintaining safety.
Below are ideas to include in letters/newsletters to families in your school.
I. Include facts/stats, for example (see food allergy resources for additional sources):
- Food allergies are estimated to affect 1 in every 13 children.1,2
- The number of children with food allergies is increasing.3
- There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance is key.4
II. Outline your school food allergy policy (for example):
- Our school district has adopted a food allergy policy that focuses on providing a safe and healthy environment for all students to learn.
- School personnel will take part in food allergy education and training.
- All students will take part in age appropriate food allergy education.
- In the cafeteria, allergen friendly seating may be necessary.
- Classroom projects or activities will avoid using common food allergens that are harmful to students.
- Bullying and teasing will result in immediate corrective action.
- No eating on the school bus.
- We will celebrate special events with non-food items, such as school supplies or a special reward system. If food is involved, only labeled prepackaged healthy food items with a complete ingredient listing are allowed.
III. Include what parents/guardians and classmates can do to help keep all children safe (for example):
- All students should wash their hands before/after meals or snacks. Hand sanitizers do not remove the food allergen.
- We will keep a box of hand wipes in the classroom, and ask your child to use them.
- No sharing/trading food/drinks, eating utensils or food containers with other students.
- Report any bullying or teasing that you hear or see.
- Please plan to celebrate special occasions without food.
- Thank you in advance for your support.
- This is a learning process for all of us, but we trust that you will follow these guidelines.
- If you have any questions or concerns about food allergy related issues, please contact us.
1 Branum AM, Lukacs SL. Food allergy among U.S. children: trends in prevalence and hospitalizations. NCHS Data Brief. 2008 Oct(10):1-8.
2 Liu AH, Jaramillo R, Sicherer SH, Wood RA, Bock SA, Burks AW, Massing M, Cohn RD, Zeldin DC. National prevalence and risk factors for food allergy and relationship to asthma: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010 Oct;126(4):798-806 e13.
3 Trends in Allergic Conditions Among Children: United States, 1997-2011; National Center of Health Statistics Data Brief, 121, May 2013.
4 U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Food Allergies: What You Need to Know Available atfda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm, last accessed on April 18, 2013.