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Food Allergies and Back to School

It is almost time for back to school which means shopping for school supplies, backpacks and…epi-pens? What? For those of you with food-allergic children, it is a reminder to review your school food allergy management plan and be sure you are up to date with medicine as well stock up on safe snacks for your child at school.

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta is a new non-profit created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals.

Kids with Food Allergies is a great resource. There is a back to school checklist and lots of other guides to help you plan for your child’s start of school. Here is a great article on Education.com “Advocating for your Child with Food Allergies at School.”

Another resource: “Back to School: Tips for your Food Allergic Child” from Living Without Magazine. Here is a back to school toolkit from FAAN.

I printed out 8.5 x11 posters and my daycare laminated them and put them in the classrooms.

Nut and peanut allergies – printables: food list to avoid, posters. Egg allergy – printables: foods to avoid

Allergic Reactions Instructions Sheet

Arm yourself with information and help your school or daycare better understand food allergies.

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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.”

Note found by kindergartener on school bus – disturbing!

My kindergartener found a handwritten note on the floor of her school bus and put it in her school bag. I found it and opened it up and started reading it. At first, it read like any other note from a girl to another in high school. The bus is shared between HS, middle and elementary school so that made sense.

But as I read it, every parent’s nightmare was listed in the note. Jail time, teen pregnancy, you name it. The question is, now what do we do with it? We are going to turn it into the Principal. Thank goodness my daughter can’t read it, but what if a 3rd or 5th grader read it? Oh the horror. I typed it out into a word document as a reminder as well and I vow to be sure we are active in our child’s life so that this isn’t the path that she takes. I feel that the parents need to know what is going on with these kids and that is the least we can do. I will have nightmares tonight!

What would you do?