Food allergies and back to school

September 8, 2014 in Back to School, Best of Both, food by MyBestofBothWorlds

Food allergies and back to school are a scary combination!

With back to school starting for us here on Long Island last week, many parents were probably doing a happy dance getting the kids back to school, while some parents of children with food allergies were probably sweating it out, anxious about the safety of their children while out of their care.

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I am just shocked to have read a story about the Rocky Point school district on Long Island,  that is allowing teachers to eat nuts in common rooms even when there is a five year old child that has a life-threatening allergy.  Click here to see News 2 NY coverage   While the school district did assign a full time aide to be with the child while she is attending, it still disquieting to have read the story especially after my own experiences.

I am blessed that my children do not suffer from food allergies, however I have several friends that contend with this on a daily basis and I just can’t imagine how difficult it must be to deal with especially when their children are so young.  I understand first hand the love affair my son has with his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  He eats one practically every morning for breakfast, but I don’t send them to school.  To me it’s just not worth it.

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As a healthcare professional, I have seen first hand what anaphylactic reaction looks like up close and how serious it is, and I would never want to knowingly create a risk for anyone’s child.  A few years ago, I had a birthday party for my son and was conscientious of the food I was serving, snacks and desserts.  What I didn’t take into account were the candies that went into the pinata.  There were candies with nuts in them and as the kids went for the loot on the floor, one of the hawk eye Moms spotted them and pulled her daughter back.  The fear I saw in her face, really shook me up and of course I felt awful.  There were three kids at his party that could have gotten really hurt by eating those candies.

Thank goodness no harm was done, but that little incident gave me a glimpse into how close we came to a major issue, how vigilant Moms have to be for sake of their children that suffer from a nut allergy and I have to tell you that, that moment of cold fear stuck with me.  And reading about this I just feel compelled to share my opinion on the matter.

What I want to express with this blog post, is that while everyone has rights and I understand the world at large is not peanut free or nut free, if we could all be a bit more understanding, a bit more tolerant, a bit more careful, life would be made a bit more easy for those parents and their kids that have to deal with food allergies on a day to day basis.

For more information about food allergies check out FARE Food Allergy & Education website. There are over 15 million people that suffer from serious food allergies and 6 million of them are children.  Their website has great resources for schools, camps, daycare facilities,  colleges and other organizations, as well as links to laws and regulations.  Knowledge is power, so get educated about this important topic–please!