Conflicting Parental Comfort Zones in School Environment

Posted on: Mon, 09/16/2002 - 12:38am
katiee's picture
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pThis is Wade's first year of school and I am in the process of preparing a "Manufacturer's Safe Snack List" at the request of his JK teacher to give parents an idea of what they can include in their child's snack. No problem right? Except the teacher gave me a copy of another parent's safe foods list to get an idea what she was looking for. I read the list for this PA/TNA/Egg allergic child and the mother has included a number of products, namely President's Choice and No Name products, that I know are not necessarily safe. (Cindy, do you still have a link to Steve and his great site for manufacturers? could I have it?).br /
(*** I found the site Cindy, thanks!***)/p
pI have always been told that with President's Choice and No Name products, it is necessary to contact them every time you purchase a product because their manufacturers/suppliers can and do change and although the product looks the same to us, it could have been made on shared lines etc./p
pI do not know if this parent knows this and I don't quite know how to approach it. I could use some ideas. Because I am sitting on the Parent Council this year as the allergy awareness person, I guess I need some hard facts to back up my assumption about these products. The whole idea for the allergy awareness coordinator was born out of a need for some kind of allergy consistancy in our school. This way no matter that a child is in JK or grade 4, the information will remain the seame and is available to all teachers and volunteers./p
pI guess I just don't want to step on any parents toes. We do all have our comfort zones but how to be relate to other parents zones when it could directly affect our PA children within the school?/p
pThanks again,/p
pKatiee/p
p[This message has been edited by katiee (edited September 16, 2002).]/p

Posted on: Mon, 09/16/2002 - 2:21am
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At school for the other children I rely on the label on the product. If it lists our allergens or says may contain them then it is not allowed in the classroom or lunchroom. If it does not it is safe for the others to bring and eat.
At school for my child I rely on our family rules for food and he only gets foods that I consider safe after investigating.
Hope this helps. Kathryn

Posted on: Mon, 09/16/2002 - 9:38pm
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I want to do the same as the above poster: keep the family rules for my dd, but allow any okay labelled stuff for the others, and she simply only eats safe snacks present in the class or food I send in. Our teacher seems to be pressing for all kids to eat the same, but trying to keeping it safe for my dd. She is asking me about new products, and alot at one time(fast food, pizza, french fries, popsicles). I keep trying to press on myself that we stick with what we know and my dd is used to this, and she really has not liked any junk fast foods anyway, so why try??? It is simply healthier to avoid and I do not need to worry about the allergies and prep if we avoid them. I am hoping our last exchange made our attitiude on safe food and new food clear. Gosh they are only there a couple of hours and so much about food! becca

Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2002 - 12:13am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Katiee, if you were not the allergy awareness co-ordinator for the school, I *might* agree with Kathryn and becca above, but I don't think so. I understand that yes, it is the expectation that non-PA parents simply (and it doesn't seem as though they feel it's that simple from my experience this year at Jesse's school) read the label and if the product is labeled safely (even if it's not), then the food is *supposed* to be allowed into the classroom.
However. You are the allergy awareness co-ordinator which means your focus, aside from ensuring Wade's safety at school is to also educate the other parents of children in the school re food allergies.
In some ways, although I have found it difficult, I have not minded that Jesse has been the only PA child in his school because that means that I haven't had to deal with other PA parents' comfort zones. We're polite and cautious enough here on this board to respect one another and not question comfort zones but I think when it comes to dealing with people, especially when it comes to school, it's a different story.
This year when I met with the principal the second time I believe, after I had found out that there was, indeed, another PA child in the school, I heard something about the child's PA not being as severe. Of course, this expression has always made my head explode, but after raising a thread here about it well over a year ago, I do understand where people are coming from. I disagree with the statement, because PA always has the possibility of being severe (i.e., anaphylactic, life-threatening) and I feel that it should be treated as such.
So, when I walk into the school with a very detailed school plan (which does adhere to school board policy) and another PA parent walks in without one, of course, I look like wacko Mom from he**, when, in fact, I'm not.
However, I am positive that it can be perceived as fanaticism, etc. The only thing I do have going for me when it comes to this, sadly to say, is that Jesse has had two anaphylactic reactions and almost died. Great way to get your points taken seriously, isn't it?
I have contacted Loblaw's re their President's Choice products and they are, what I consider, the *worst* store to deal with when it comes to buying their store brand products. They're the ones where you have to phone in the UPC number and they will track the product to see if it is safe or not. Well, to me, that's not something I feel I have the time to do so I just simply avoid buying their products. And actually, if you do look at their cookies, for example, they do have a "may contain" warning on them.
So, no, they're not on the safe list. The cookies, for example, would fall under the category that Kathyrn and becca feel comfortable with, i.e., they're labeled unsafely so they have no business being in the classroom.
I had a lot of difficulty last year with Ember's JK teacher at the school in Stayner, who, after I told her no no name products, produced a list for their cooking class consisting of all no name products. That's when I had to look further to see what grocery stores do have pretty good systems in place re their no name/store brand products.
A&P with their Equality brands are good, as would be Food Basics with their Masters Choice.
But again, back to allergy awareness. Two years ago, when Jesse was in SK, I found out that the Pillsbury slice and bake special occasion cookies were unsafe even though they were labeled without a "may contain" warning.
They were imported from the U.S. and were a "may contain" product (please note, in looking at Connie's recent information re Pillsbury since the General Mills take-over, this information may no longer be true). Now, you're expecting non-PA parents to read labels but are you expecting them to check to see if the product is imported as well? No.
Some of us (me) wouldn't have thought to do that ourselves.
I approached Jesse's teacher at the time and told her that I had found out the cookies were unsafe, the same cookies that I had okayed for Hallowe'en parties, etc. I actually gave her the option of allowing them into the "peanut free" classroom and just asked that Jesse not be allowed to consume them. Well, this feisty teacher said that no way were unsafe products coming into her classroom. End of story.
You found the link to [url="http://www.nuconnexions.com"]www.nuconnexions.com[/url] but I'm posting it again just so others can click on it. You can also e-mail Steve directly and I am sure he will give you further assistance.
What I would do, if I were you, and it would be a rather big undertaking, is contact the different grocery stores by e-mail and ask them about the safety of their no name/store brand products for PA individuals (or food allergic individuals if you're doing more than PA as the allergy awareness co-ordinator). I have found that when I e-mail manufacturers and grocery stores, I do get a *proper* response back from them. If you, unlike me, have a working printer [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] , I would then print out the response you get from Loblaw's, A&P, etc. I can bet my bottom dollar that you are going to find that Loblaw's is NOT okay, that President's Choice products are NOT okay unless you want to phone the UPC number in on the actual package you're buying (a big pain in the butt as far as I'm concerned, like I have time to write a UPC number down, phone and speak with a CSR and then go back and purchase the product if it should turn out to be safe - ridiculous way of dealing with a very large consumer community) and that as allergy awareness co-ordinator, you would be heightening awareness about food allergies and how insidious it can be when shopping, if you do provide copies of the e-mails that you receive back from the companies.
I do understand that it is a comfort zone thing. If you weren't the allergy awareness co-ordinator, I'm not clear how I would respond. Actually, I would probably respond the same. I know you don't want to step on someone else's toes (basically question their comfort zone), but I'm sorry, you do have a peanut free classroom in place for Wade for a reason. If the other Mother feels comfortable allowing her child to eat those products, then the child can eat them at home, not in the peanut free classroom.
Of course, you do risk the great chance of coming across as a fanatic/wacko. That would be if you were simply dealing with the school as a PA parent. You're not.
You are the allergy awareness co-ordinator (thank heaven you thought of that, Katiee [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] ) and it is now your job/position to make people aware of food allergies, including parents of food allergic children.
I know this is really difficult, believe me.
And again, if you didn't have the position on Parent Council that you do, I might be thinking of different ways to approach the situation, although I still think that for me, I would be making people aware (the teacher) that certain products are NOT okay whether the other PA parent says they are or not.
I'm finding this whole school thing hard to navigate. I don't think it's because we have a school plan for Jesse. I think the school plan has actually shown the administration that I know what I'm talking about and made them realize that they have to ensure the relative safety of my son at school. I think by speaking with them about different things they've come to know that I do know what I'm talking about and that's why I was offered the position I was offered last week. So, I don't think it's the school plan that's made school difficult for me.
I do think that moving and changing schools has made it hard, definitely.
Totally off-topic, but in closing, this morning I had to speak with Jesse's teacher about his behaviour. He is now losing his snack for talking in class. Well, I didn't think that that was an appropriate punishment because Jesse is an extremely picky eater and my soul, I need him to eat the food that I send into school with him. However, after speaking with the teacher, I learned that it's a progressive thing - he has quite a few warnings and other punishments before his snack is taken away from him. I agreed to let her do this until Friday when we will talk about it again (heaven forbid she talk to me about it before she started doing it with him - he told me). At any rate, in speaking with her this morning, she said something that really bugged me and I should have known one day it would come because of his behaviour and his PA. "I've really worked hard to advocate on behalf of Jesse because of his PA BUT....." Well. That just doesn't sit well with me. I had just posted to Lam last week in another thread, when she asked me if Jesse's behaviour affected how the staff at the school dealt with his PA, that no, it hadn't, they kept the things separated. But this morning, I basically got my face rubbed in it. I've advocated on behalf of Jesse because of his allergy (obviously with other parents that have been so vocal in protesting against the peanut free classroom) BUT.....
I'm in for a difficult year. I really get that sense. Sorry to go off-track in your thread.
I do have to say that I can understand what Kathryn and becca are saying, but I have also dealt with it differently in the past and not as the allergy awareness co-ordinator. If I find a food to be unsafe, whether labeled safely or not (i.e., the Pillsbury), I do speak with the teacher and see what her (his) position is on it (thankfully with Jesse's JK/SK teacher her position was the same as mine). To me, peanut free is peanut free and as we receive new information from manufacturers/stores, it has to be incorporated into the peanut free classroom rules. That's my way of dealing with things, but then again, maybe that's why I have such a vocal group protesting this year, who knows?
Again though, your position isn't solely that of another PA parent. If you would like some help contacting the different grocery stores, please let me know what exactly you're asking them about - i.e., what food allergens and I will certainly try my best to help you contact them. I think you need to contact them, get the e-mail response, print it off, give a copy to the teacher and also submit it as allergy awareness co-ordinator to the Parent Council.
I frequently use information from [url="http://www.nuconnexions.com"]www.nuconnexions.com[/url] as food monitor for the school and I do e-mail text straight from the manufacturers' websites to the school for them to look over. Or, last week, I received information from Kellogg's. They gave me a peanut free product list and a tree nut free product list. I went through both lists and came up with a list that is PA/TNA safe. I then e-mailed that to the school for the woman who had been asking for some help with snacks.
That's my million cents for the day, Katiee.
Hope it helped in some way.
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
------------------

Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2002 - 12:48am
ACBaay's picture
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Joined: 03/19/2002 - 09:00

Hi,
I'm sorry to be off-topic in this thread, but Cindy, I feel pretty strongly that it is wrong for Jessie's teacher to withhold his snack because of behavior. He is already limited with regards to food (although, it would also be wrong to do to a non-allergic child.) IMO, she should find a different way to deal with it. She should work with him to help him to succeed behaviorally (if that is a word.) All kids are unique and have different learning styles. It is her job, as the teacher, to foster a love of learning, which is not accomplished by taking punitive measures with a child.
Andrea

Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2002 - 4:24am
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

I think I have been misunderstood. I do not think it is okay to have May contains in the class room. I, in fact, do not and have a teacher who is consulting me on every possible food in the scholl, not just my dd's classroom. What my issue is, is that she is trying to feed my dd the same things as everyone else, even though I have provided a safe list and they only are getting a small snack each day with a drink. My point is that i still want only to have my dd eat what i provide for things like birthdays and parties and outings. I do not want to check McDonalds particulary, because I would rather she not eat it anyway. If a product's label looks okay, I do not allow my child to have it unless I have called myself or checked it out here. My problem is the teacher says, "I will call."" This is great for the other kids, but I still only want to have things I check myself. Does that make sense? Still a bit looser than what Cindy is saying, in that I allow it to be served to other kids. If I do know for a fact it is a may contain not properly labelled as such, I have told the school not to use it(Brachs and Pillsbury and Keebler, for example). This is preschool and they are trying to go nut free for the first time, so we are working out all the kinks gradually. I applaud their effort, actually. But it is an item by item thing, and the lunch time is part of an optional stay and play program, where it gets stickier. Just clarifying my position, as I felt it was misrepresneted. Not that it is relevant to the bigger issue of the topic! Becca

Posted on: Wed, 09/18/2002 - 11:17am
California Mom's picture
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Joined: 07/14/2000 - 09:00

I'm sorry to go off topic here, too, but I am also very concerned about Jesse's teacher taking his snack away as a punishment. I think that is totally wrong. I am also, of course, very disturbed to hear that she is now acting put out about dealing with his pa because of some behavior problems. She is sounding a lot like Leah's kindergarten teacher whom we had so many problems with.
As for the original topic, my advice would be to go ahead with your own list and explain why other brands are problematic. If you can avoid even mentioning the other mother's list, all the better.
Good luck to all! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] Miriam

Posted on: Sat, 09/28/2002 - 2:53pm
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Becca, how do you find out that something is improperly labeled, i.e., the Brach's, Pillsbury, and Keebler items you mentioned?
Susan

Posted on: Sun, 09/29/2002 - 12:14am
becca's picture
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Susan, it was a big surprise to me upon finding this site learning that companies are not *required* to label for potential cross contamination. It is voluntary. They are supposed to follow certain cleaning procedures. Some companies routinely share production lines with nut containing products, and do not label in such a way that we would know that. Between searches here, and sharing info. form others, as well as calls I make myself to manufacturers, I have certain foods I feel comfortable with and others I avoid. I am much more cautious about candies, given that so much of it is made with nuts. Same for cookies and ice cream. I do use a few products that I never called on, since we have used them prior to discovering the allergy and have had no problems. I am loosening up a bit in our home, too, giving her Breyer's vanilla ice cream on occasion, and various popsicle type things on occasion.
Welcome, and try not to be overwhelmed. I have been searching and posting alot about this recently as my dd has started school for the first time, and every week, I get a new batch of items I need to check out. They do lots of food projects and crafts there<>, but are trying to be peanut/nut free. They really need to revamp the curriculum for that, but this year we tackle it day to day. Best wishes, becca

Posted on: Sun, 09/29/2002 - 6:58am
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Cindy,
Don't take this the wrong way because it's not meant to be. But in examining the issue of taking snack away reminds me of what happened to my daughter last year in her 2nd grade class. It seems many children in the class kept forgetting to do their homework, so the teacher took snack away from everyone--permanently. My daughter was a bit upset at first because she always did her homework. I told her to talk to her teacher, that maybe she would let the kids who did their homework religiously eat snack while the other kids didn't. Well she said her teacher just flat out said no. Everyone was losing their snack time.
I know my daughter was disappointed, but at the same time I thought it was one of those "oh well" things in life. It wasn't going to hurt her to lose her snack, since I would just pack her a bigger lunch. It was also a lesson to her to eat a good breakfast, or she was going to be miserably hungry all morning.
I must add her teacher, Mrs. B, was exceptional. She was just a wonderful educator and so compassionate. She further explained why she eliminated snack in the annual parent conference. I was actually impressed she had the guts to eliminate snack time in her class, with our elementary curriculum being so food-based. It didn't seem like any parents complained so that's a good thing. Therefore, I've decided she would be first on my list for Ryan's second-teacher. I don't know of any other teacher who has eliminated snack time in the elementary school!
Please don't think that I'm insinuating that Jesse's teacher is doing the right thing, because I'm not. I hate the thought of a teacher linking poor behavior with PA as mentioned before. However, we all know food is a great motivator. I guess I'm guilty of doing what the teacher does at home. My kids love junk, so they do get some of their punishments with no snacks or they can't eat their meal until their room is clean. From my own view at home, junk food (or any food for that matter) is an extremely useful motivating tool. I guess that's why so many schools use it for rewards, and at the same time as punishment as well.
So my question at this point would be: Would we be upset if a teacher took snack away from our non-PA children for misbehavior? Personally, I wouldn't. I do have problems, however, with constantly rewarding good behavior with food, but that's a different thread altogether. I'm in no way supporting Jesse's teacher, but maybe she feels it's the only thing that's working at this point. Do you have time to volunteer in his classroom? Maybe you could help the teacher identify ways to correct any behavior problems in a more positive manner.
Reading this thread just got me thinking of how we perceive situations differently in dealing with our PA and non-PA children.
Sorry for rambling...

Posted on: Mon, 09/30/2002 - 4:28am
Grateful's picture
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I understand where you're coming from about the teacher wanting all the kids to eat the same thing. This happened last year in my son's kindergarten class. Nothing I could say would convince her that he didn't need the same candy "reward" for good behavior as the other kids. We finally settled on mini-marshmallows with her reading the label but it made me extremely uncomfortable and from now on I will put my foot down and not allow anything I haven't sent in myself! Maybe you could explain that it is just too confusing when the group food is okay sometimes and not others? Good luck!

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