About that peanut free table........

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 1:20am
Tamie's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Some of you here know about the battles I've had with my dd's school, (she's the only allergic child in all of prek-12). We did get a peanut free table, which I am grateful for, but she always sits alone and that bothers me. Most, if not all of the kids in her kindergarten class get hotlunch, almost always peanut free, and they don't have a choice to sit with her. I know this is probably minor, but I do feel bad for her having to sit by herself, sometimes a teacher or other adult will sit at her table, but not often. My dd never says it bothers her and I don't ever mention it, but it does bother me! Also, my dd NEVER hears me speaking to the school about these problems because I don't feel she needs to know about it.
Tamie

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 2:13am
StaceyK's picture
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Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

I agree. What strikes me about the 'peanut table' is that it really does isolate kids. And makes them stand out. I really regret that my daughter might have to have a peanut free table (she is only 3 now.) She is redheaded too, which I *LOVE* but I know makes her a little different too and a potential target at school. I wish they could just blend in and no one would have to know about the peanut allergy. It seems to set them up for cruelty.

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 2:46am
Anne Parrish's picture
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Joined: 01/06/2000 - 09:00

My PA child is in 3rd grade & has been in the public schools since 1st grade. The situation here is somewhat similar in that most of the cafeteria food is peanut free. Tables are assigned by class (like, 3 or 4 tables per class) but more than one class uses any given table in a day due to staggered lunches.
For the 1st 2 years of school, there was no specific peanut free table (I had asked for it but the school had been reluctant & I agreed to give their approach a try), but my child's class brought a 'Peanut Free' sign & whichever table my child sat down at, had the sign for while the class was there. Anybody who brought peanut butter had to sit at another table. My child always had a placemat to minimize the problem of 'residue' (shudder... I just call it *filth*... they have the kids wash the tables & they are all just *disgusting*) from other classes/other days. We never had a problem (& she is moderately sensitive to trace amounts of peanuts).
This year, the school established a 'peanut free' table to accommodate another family. (There were already several PA children in school, but now someone really pushed for a peanut free table.) My child sat there w/ two other PA 3rd graders for a while, but she found it very isolating & she didn't like it. So my child & one other (long time) PA 3rd grader has gone back to sitting w/ their class (& now that I think about it, we have not gone back to using the placemats... I will have to discuss that w/ my child!) The only 3rd grader who still sits at the PA table is the one who was just diagnosed a year ago.
Anyway, I am just sharing our experience. Other people will have difference perspectives. I agree w/ you that it is difficult socially (especially as they get older) for kids to be assigned to a separate table. For us, as we have grown in experience w/ PA, we have widened *my* comfort zone to allow my child to integrate into normal situations more & more.
Good luck... It is good that you are thinking about this now, before it is really a problem for your daughter. I am sure you will figure out what is the right balance to maintain safety while avoiding ostracism.
Anne

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 3:24am
maggie0303's picture
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Joined: 04/14/2003 - 09:00

I'm glad that your addressing this issue now before it does start to affect your dd. I don't think it is right for anyone to eat alone at school!! This just really bothers me. It is hard enough for kids to feel like they "belong". I also don't understand why they won't let other kids sit with her if they have a peanut-free lunch!!
My dd is in third grade and the only one in her school who is pa. There is not a peanut free table at her school and she eats with her friends, some of which will eat pb. In general this has not been a problem for her, only problem was with someone teasing with pb and this has been resolved. If she ever feels uncomfortable she has permission to leave and sit with the nurse.
The lunch room supervisors spray and wipe down each table in the lunch room between classes.
Just thinking about when I was in school. We were allowed to go home for lunch if we lived close enough. Does anyone still do this?
Maggie

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 3:30am
mchammond's picture
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Joined: 09/21/2000 - 09:00

We have a peanut free table in our elementary school and they are putting one in at the middle school next year. Kids can choose the table they sit at each day. This allows my sons friends to take turns sitting at the table when they do not have pb. It has been better than having him sit by himself, been there and neither of us liked it!!

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 5:02am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

The school my older boys went to allowed a Gr. 2 boy who was allergic to fish to move seats - and bring a friend with him - if anyone sitting near him was eating fish. His mom did not feel a *fish free* table was necessary, and they were both happy with this. He was such a social guy that his friends would get mad if their mom's packed them tuna, 'cuz Andy would get moved, and they wouldn't be allowed to go with him. He had a very protective group of friends [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
Forced isolation is unnecessary. If a table is peanut free, any friends who have not brought peanut should be allowed to join her.
One question though? What about *may contains*? In my personal opinion they are not a threat, but is that why nobody is allowed at the table?

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 7:07am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

Tamie,
I think your dd's situation is horrible! No child should have to sit alone. I really hope you can get this resolved before next year so this can be stopped. What is the school's rationale for not allowing other children to sit at the pf table?
In general, it seems that pf tables work really well when other kids can sit there and the pa kid is social and well liked. We had a pf table that did not work out well at all. Unfortunately, my dd had not really made friends with anyone in her class that year [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] and no-one made an effort to even think of sitting at the pf table. It broke my heart, truly. My dd did have friends in other classes, thank goodness, but they had to sit with their own class for lunch.
This year we are at a new school and I did not want to take the risk of my dd being alone, so we gave up the pf table altogether. Fortunately this has worked out very well for Leah. She has not had any reactions and she does have friends to sit with.
Good luck to you. I would find the situation you describe untolerable.
Miriam

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 7:15am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Quote:Originally posted by AnnaMarie:
[b]If a table is peanut free, any friends who have not brought peanut should be allowed to join her.
[/b]
Maybe that should be corrected to add that any friends who have not brough peanut should be allowed to join her even if they are not in the same class.
I was a lunch room supervisor and I realize they like to keep *everyone where they belong*. But be reasonable. There is no reason why an occasional exception can't be made, like allowing kids from different classes to sit together. Rationalize it as a reward for being so caring towards a friend.

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 7:29am
erik's picture
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Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by AnnaMarie:
[b]One question though? What about *may contains*? In my personal opinion they are not a threat, but is that why nobody is allowed at the table?
[/b]
Yes, I agree. Although I would consider 'may contains' to be a threat for toddlers/young children who share food. But once a child is responsible enough not to share food, may contains should not be a threat as he will not eat them. Maybe around the age of 5 (for the average child - there could be exceptions).
I used to eat 'manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts' Mars bars for years.. never had one reaction. Although I am avoiding anything like this at the present time.

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 7:41am
Sandra Y's picture
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Joined: 08/22/2000 - 09:00

My son is at a peanut free table but anybody can sit there as long as they don't have peanuts (we don't worry about "may contains" in other kids' lunches). One boy, my son's best friend, never brings peanut butter in his lunch (he switched to jelly-only sandwiches--he is SO sweet!!) and he usually sits next to my son.
The kids are very good at monitoring this on their own. You will see a kid sit down at the PF table, open his lunch, say "Oops!" and get up and move when they discover pb in there. They are great! An aide double checks to make sure nobody is eating pb.
Once in a blue moon his friends will sit elsewhere and my son will be surrounded by girls. Horrors!!! But this is rare and I tell him just wait till you're 15, you'll love it.

Posted on: Wed, 05/21/2003 - 10:55am
erik's picture
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Joined: 05/15/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Sandra Y:
[b]Once in a blue moon his friends will sit elsewhere and my son will be surrounded by girls. Horrors!!! But this is rare and I tell him just wait till you're 15, you'll love it.
[/b]
15? hmmmm... more like 12 [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img] He'll be happy then.

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