Thoughts from a Food Allergic Child’s Mom in the Peanut State.

I spoke with my sister in Charlotte, NC and was surprised to hear that her school system has been strict with food allergies and labeling with what gets brought to school for almost six years. They serve Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches and if you bring in any snacks, it has to have the store label on it. No big deal but it can save a life.

In GA, however, it is an entirely different story. My daughter has an egg and peanut allergy and I was voicing my concerns to my sister over our schools in GA still serving peanut butter and allowing any snack foods (homemade or store bought) to be brought in to classroom parties and for the daily class snack.

And then it hit me. Tonight I saw a peanut commercial for the peanut industry in Georgia. I connected the political and economical connections between the state and the peanut industry and my heart sank. We will never have the same understanding in our schools as long as the peanut industry and lobbyists have a say in this state.

How heartbreaking is it to realize that I have an uphill battle? It’s more than having a peanut free table in the cafeteria. I mean, you still serve peanut butter on the menu so how will you protect a food allergic child from being exposed when kids can wipe it on a chair or table? Who checks to see that their hands are clean? And what about all the classroom parties and daily snacks where parents bring in anything?

I have more regulations with my daughter’s daycare at Primrose School (thankfully) and now I am considering keeping her there for private kindergarten. It is a battle that I hope most parents do not face. It has implications that go far beyond “just keep your kid away from the peanut butter.”

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Posted on June 10, 2009, in family, food allergy, peanut free snack ideas allergy classroom birthday, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I can feel your frustration. My 10 year old son is a peanut allergic child. It is incredibly frustrating when it comes to the food that is brought into the schools. He has been in 3 different elementary schools, and out of those 3, only one went peanut-free without a fight.
    I have had many excuses as to why children bring peanut butter sandwiches to school. Everything from; ‘It’s the only thing my child will eat’, to ‘The family is lower class and therefore cannot afford to send anything else with their child’. Now for the first example, I think there is a problem if the only thing that your child eats is peanut butter. Sure peanuts are good for you, but every day? And for the second one, I have been a single mom raising my child on my own since I was 18 and never once have I had to buy peanut butter. He has always been happy and healthy with a million other lunch options.
    The way I see it is; it’s only one meal out of the day. I truly don’t understand why parents can’t grasp the importance and ease. As I said, there are a million and one other lunch options out there, why must it always be an uphill battle? If Commonwealth Football Stadium can be peanut-free (it holds over 30,000 people), then why can’t a school of less than 500??
    I know that it might sound a little harsh, but one comparison that I often use when it comes to this issue and I am dealing with a thick headed parent is; “you send peanut butter and I will send a loaded hand gun with my child. It might kill your child, might not. But let’s just try and find out.” Yes I have been called many names for that one, but I think that deep down, it should strike a chord.

    Thanks

  2. My family and I have just moved to GA from CA and my son who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame will be attending a GA public school in the fall (2010). He is at a private preK which has moved to a peanut free sesame free class room. However, I am facing an uphill battle with trying to get his public elementary school to be nut free.
    I was wondering what district your family is in and if there are any support groups that you know of in GA for those with allergies. (according to FAAN there are no known support groups for allergies in GA). I am planning on doing everything I can to help my child be in a safe environment.
    If you could help me out I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks,

    Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer,
      Welcome to GA! I live in Forsyth County and the school system is not nut free. There is a nut-free table in the lunch room for kids to sit at. They do serve Smuckers Lunchables PB&J. My daughter is not yet in public school and I have fears when she does start school. Areas of concern: the bus, lunch room, snack time and holidays/parties. My friend in Cobb County has a son with severe allergies – I can find out from her what she has done. I remember they had to show the teachers how to administer the epi-pen that their son carries with him at all times. It is an uphill battle. My sister lives in Charlotte, NC and their schools are nut free. I use I.M. Healthy soy nut butter in our home (I love peanut butter!) and it tastes the same! I just wish schools would also go nut free.

      I don’t know of any local support groups. I tried finding one through the FAAN web site as well. There is a food allergy walk here – I will contact the organizers and see if there is a support group. Keep in touch and good luck!

      • Hi! We are entering the Forsyth County School system on Monday! My son starts 1st grade there. I had him in private 1/2 day kindergarten last year where lunch was not an issue. I attended open house tonight, all I can say is “boy do I feel unprepared!” All the assurances I had gotten from an aquaintance of mine about how great they are with allergies went out the window when I met my son’s teacher and she never even answered if they would be able to wash their hands after lunch. I am really trying not to over-react but seriously? I was also told I would need a note from my son’s doctor if I want him to sit at the allergy table – 1 business day left before school starts (its not on their web site anywhere and I had called the school nurse previously this was never mentioned) I need to beg the doctor to get him to write a note so my son can eat his lunch safely at school.

      • Hi Tracy,
        Good luck today! I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your school. Communication is key with all of your child’s caregivers and you are not overreacting! This is why I am glad that Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created. They have lots of resources to help you establish a safe plan for your child and his school. Please let me know if I can also help in any way!

    • Hi Jennifer – I heard back from the Food Allergy Walk people. Here are some other helpful food allergy links and an online local support group:
      There is a yahoo support group. It’s mostly an email based support group. Here’s the link to the site- http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/atlantafamilieswithfoodallergies/

      Here is a link about the food allergy walk in Atlanta as well:
      Moving Toward a Cure
      October 2, 2010
      Roswell Riverside Park
      http://www.foodallergywalk.org
      http://foodallergywalkatlanta.wordpress.com/

  3. Hi, my son also has severe food allergies , peanuts, tree nuts, shell fish and so far he has been attending Primrose . I have tried looking for a peanut free school to no avail. I’ll be forced to keep him in Primrose for Kindergaten but I don’t know what to do when he gets to 1st grade. He can’t attend a school that deals with the problem by having a separate table, he needs a peanut free school , because cross contamination can occur even though they have separate tables.

    PLEASE..if anyone knows of any school ,please let me know.

    • Carole – I have a friend in Alpharetta attending King’s Ridge and they are PEANUT FREE. You may want to chcek them out if they are close to you?

  4. My son too has a nut allergy. I have been recommending to the other parents in his class that they switch to almond butter. I have found one, Barney Butter that is peanut free, made in an almond only facility and you would swear is peanut butter. All the kids have gone crazy for it!!

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