Food Risks in a Classroom

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If your child has recently been diagnosed with a food allergy, you may be wondering where exposure to the allergen is most likely to happen.

School is probably the first place that comes to mind. While classrooms and school campuses are getting more savvy about awareness, you can never be too careful when your child’s health is on the line.

The cafeteria and the classroom

The most likely place a child will be exposed at school is the cafeteria. Most schools have modified their menus to accommodate more serious, common allergies like peanut – but you need to ask to be sure. Therefore, there will be no peanut product used at all in preparation of meals at public schools.

Unless the school has a no peanut policy on lunches brought from home, there could be peanut exposure on outside lunches. Most schools will offer a peanut-free table for children who can’t tolerate a proximity to nuts. Children without peanut allergies can also sit at these tables provided their lunches are peanut-free.

In-class parties featuring food items are another concern. Teachers need to take action to ensure there are no nut products in any foods brought into the classroom. Most schools now require food to be prepackaged with the contents listed to ensure the safety of the students. If not, you can certainly ask that this accommodation be made in your classroom.

Projects using peanut butter

For many years, classrooms used peanut butter for all kind of projects. This tradition is fading out, thankfully. For a time, science projects making volcanoes encouraged kids to sculpt with peanut butter. During the spring, bird feeders slathered with peanut butter and rolled in bird feed were popular.

Sometimes you find entire units devoted to the peanut industry. Since the history of the produce is colorful and edible, children would eagerly follow along waiting for the Nutter Butter reward at the end of the unit. Most of these projects are gone, but if your school is still fixed on them, you can encourage the use of other nut butters instead of peanut. Or you can encourage similar food industry topics as a point of discussion.

Talk to the school administrators and teacher

In any case, once the school and teachers know the danger of introducing an allergen into the classroom, they will usually work with you to ensure the safety of your child. Everyone is looking for a safe and rewarding school experience.

Source: KidsGrowth.com, FARE

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