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Peanut rules annoy some area parents

7 replies [Last post]
By 2BusyBoys on Tue, 09-05-06, 13:58

by Jessica M. Karmasek
Daily Mail staff

Some parents are going nuts over new guidelines prohibiting some students from bringing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other foods containing peanuts to various schools across Kanawha County.
But school officials say the public outcry over the peanut ban, meant to protect those students with nut allergies, has been exaggerated.

"We're just asking parents to work with us," said Brenda Isaac, lead nurse for the school system.

"If parents must pack something that has nuts, we just want them to let us know. Or, if there's a situation where that's all a child will eat, then of course we'll allow them to have it. But we have to make sure the teacher knows."

That's not what parent Wendy Cross, who has a son and a daughter at Pinch Elementary, said she was told.

Cross said school officials sent a letter home with her son, a first-grader at the elementary school, saying peanuts and peanut butter were not allowed at the school, and that the school would be peanut-free by the end of the first week.

She says her daughter, Holly, a kindergarten student at Pinch, was left hungry after her teacher took away the child's peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

"I had sent a note with my son, saying he would only eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I didn't send a note with my daughter because I didn't realize it applied to kindergarten, too," Cross said.

"When I went to pick up my daughter at the bus stop that day, she came off shaking. I asked her what was wrong and she said nothing. I looked in her lunch box and it was still full, except for her banana. I asked her why she didn't eat her lunch and she said the teacher told her she wasn't allowed," she said.

School officials contend they are not forcing, but merely strongly suggesting that students leave behind any nutty substances to help protect other students who are allergic.

They don't even use the term "peanut-free." Schools, if they choose to ban or prohibit the nutty foods, prefer the expression "peanut-restricted."

"Obviously, we have to be respectful of health problems that all our children have in the school system. If they have a peanut allergy, then we have to make sure -- it's our responsibility -- to make sure their lives are not jeopardized," said Ron Duerring, Kanawha Schools superintendent.

Isaac agreed, "I think we've got to remember that this might be inconvenient for

one child, but life-threatening for another. We have to do what's going to keep kids safe. If we put that child's life in jeopardy, then we're negligent."

Still, some parents say peanut butter and jelly is the most affordable lunch option for their children.

Some cannot afford to buy Lunchables, packed with crackers, meats and cheeses, or packaged deli meats for sandwiches. Many young children won't eat such foods, parents say.

But Isaac said there are other options. School administrators, she says, will work with families to provide more affordable, enjoyable peanut-free options for students, if necessary.

"If their family is free-and-reduced lunch eligible, they don't need to send peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," she said.

If peanut butter and jelly is all a child will eat, then it will be allowed, Isaac said. But a note to his or her teacher is required.

Last year, there were 22 students with peanut allergies in Kanawha County. That number is probably higher this year, Isaac said. About 20 schools had peanut-restricted policies last year, she said. She expects the number of schools to jump this year.

"We're definitely seeing more students at the elementary level with the allergy, but also a growing number at the secondary level," Isaac said.

She says the peanut problem is more closely monitored at elementary schools, where children are messier and not as conscious of possible allergic reactions.

Kathy Whitlock, a school nurse at John Adams Middle School, Holz Elementary and Overbrook Elementary, agreed, "The kids are messier when they're younger. They're not as good about washing their hands."

Officials say they don't search lunch bags. That would be too intrusive and too hard to manage, especially at area middle school and high schools, which have upwards of 600 to 800 students.

"The older kids should know and be able to tell their friends or teachers,

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By Christabelle on Tue, 09-05-06, 14:26

There's that - all a child will eat - nonsense again.
Is it genetic? Why aren't there spontaneous pockets of starvation deaths in kids in, say, France, where PB&J isn't served regularly -- if that is all some kids will eat and the parents have NO CONTROL over it?

Just wondering.

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By joeybeth on Tue, 09-05-06, 14:47

love the way the mother in this story sent her two kids to school with pb&j sandwiches in spite of the note sent home. like that note she sent with her son helps.....no problem, billy....your mom sent a note. geez. i'm guessing she is one of those people who complains all the time regardless of the topic.

nothing like teaching your kids to totally disregard school rules because the rules DON't apply to you. (our school has rules about strap width on tank-style shirts. my daughter has a shirt she LOVES that i frankly think is very conservative. one of her principals questioned the style of the shirt, in front of my child's peers. after speaking with the principal, i told her that i didn't necessarily agree with her thoughts about the shirt BUT that i would be happy to teach my daughter that school rules apply to her, regardless of how we personally feel about the rule in question. we enjoy the shirt on saturdays and sundays now and we respect our school district's rules. period. no way am i going to teach my daughter to disrespect authority.)

i'll say it again....regardless of how one feels about bans, restrictions, requests, etc....., anyone who can honestly say their child will ONLY eat peanut butter needs to be investigated by div. of family services. first of all, it's a bunch b.s. no child eats ONLY pb. that's ridiculous and makes the mother sound stupid. secondly, IF her child truly only eats pb (which i don't believe for one second), he/she is not getting proper nutrition OR proper parenting.

i don't push for bans, though i do admire school systems who have them in place and i do support other parents of PA children who request them. i appreciate my wonderful school district who removed peanuts, peanut products and all treenuts from their cafeteria kitchens for my two children, without even being asked to. children do still bring in peanut products in their lunches (though less do now that the kids have been educated about PA). we have a plan in place that keeps my daughters as far away as possible from the kids eating from lunchboxes during lunch. it's working well for us.

IF my school decided to restrict all peanut products, even brought from home, i'm not sure how i'd feel. (one side of me would be ecstatic and the other would be afraid of provoking certain parents.) however, one thing i know for sure is that if a parent complained protecting my children was infringing on her rights to feed her child pb during the day....and was dumb enough to say her child could eat nothing else in the world....i'd laugh in her face. just for saying something so stupid.

now...if she wanted to calmly argue that life would be a little more difficult for her in finding ways to pack a lunch without peanut products and that her child would miss one of his/her favorite foods while at school, i'd be more inclined to listen and understand.

i can see both sides of the argument...but not when either side is acting ridiculous.

[This message has been edited by joeybeth (edited September 05, 2006).]

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By joeybeth on Tue, 09-05-06, 15:13

just to show that i am sensitive to both sides of this argument....i feel so sorry for the little kindergarten girl who was told (probably in front of friends) that her lunch was inappropriate and could not be eaten. my 2nd grader is very sensitive and i'm sure she would have cried; not for the loss of the sandwich but out of embarrassment and humiliation for breaking a rule. no matter how it was presented, my 2nd grader would have been mortified.

her mother should have considered this scenario when she packed a lunch for both kids that she knew was going to be a problem. unless these two children attend schools from different school districts, i would assume the rules applied to kindergarten just as they did for first grade. (unless this was some rule that only applied to one building in the school district, which i can't imagine).

either way, the way mom is behaving is sending a clear message to her kids that rules shouldn't apply to them and that safety of friends/classmates is not as important as their need for one type of food in their lunchbox.

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By Jimmy's mom on Tue, 09-05-06, 16:34

Yes, I agree about that poor little girl. It wasn't her fault that her mother packed her a PBJ. And if teachers are going to take away "inappropriate" lunches, then they should have some sort of substitute available for the child.

It sounds to me as though the school's intentions are good, but the execution is poor. They need to communicate more consistently and clearly what the policy is--it really seems that people are confused by it.

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By Jenna on Tue, 09-05-06, 19:45

Anyone have any idea what the guidelines are that the National Association of Secondary School Principals have regarding food allergies? It says in the article that they followed the guidelines ...

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By 2BusyBoys on Tue, 09-05-06, 22:05

Quote:Originally posted by Jenna:
[b]Anyone have any idea what the guidelines are that the National Association of Secondary School Principals have regarding food allergies? It says in the article that they followed the guidelines ...[/b]


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By crazytwinmom on Thu, 04-07-11, 10:50

Actually when I was little I ONLY ate peanut butter and crackers. For like 2 years that was the only non sweet food I ate. I would refuse anything else. My mother talked to my pediatrician about it and he said it would not harm me since it had protein. I believe she should have been more firm with me and offered me more food and not always caved. However the fact was, that was all I ate. I was also a very small child who looked like she really could not afford to miss a meal. So I can see my mom being one who would insist I needed peanut butter. Just pointing that I was one of those kids and they did exist. I am more firm with my kids about offering different things and if they don't eat it then they can go hungry. However even my peanut allergic child is the same way only with soy butter. They ask for soy butter and jelly sandwiches everyday. That is no different than a kid asking for PB and J every day. For some reason kids love it. I think if they are in love with PB and J the parents need to try soy butter or sun butter instead and get them used to that.

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