Does a peanut free table have to be peanut free even when the PA child is not there?

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 7:24am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

pMy daughter has a very high CAP RAST and recently had a reaction from ice cream which turned out to be on shared equipment and not stated, so she is very sensitive. She has a peanut free table at school. There are three shifts for lunch and my daughter is second shift. When the peanut free table was started last September, her teacher, who understands food allergies well and wants to avoid a reaction, said that table must be peanut free at all times. She didn`t want to take a chance on the table having peanuts for first shift and then my daughter getting there and there being a crumb of peanut from first shift on the table. The PTA which meets one Friday a month uses the same table to put their food, although there are at least 30 tables in the cafeteria, they have always used this table (for years). I always wondered if I could be sure the PTA food never had peanuts in it. Today at the PTA meeting which I rarely go to, I saw that they had candy with obvious peanuts sticking out, sitting on the peanut free table (in a bowl). I asked them to use one of the other 29 tables, and they refused. They have no reason to be involved in any 504 meetings and probably didn`t understand the risk of PA. I don`t want to ask the cafeteria to pick one of the other 29 tables to be peanut free because all 700 kids in the school have been trained that if they have peanuts they can`t sit there. It took weeks to get this accomplished, and changing the table which is peanut free will only confuse the kids, especially the young ones./p
pHere is the question: is this battle about having the PTA not put their peanut products on the peanut-free table worth fighting? It only happens once a month. In other schools, does the peanut free table have peanut products at other times of the day when the PA child is not there? I am not sure whether to fight this one (I would have to go to the principal and get her to tell the PTA to pick a different table) or just to let it go. For those of you with peanut free tables, what do you think about this? Thanks, Everyone! /p
p[This message has been edited by Carefulmom (edited May 03, 2002).]/p

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 8:22am
SweetAmanda's picture
Joined: 03/31/2002 - 09:00

That fight is worth fighting. It is a peanut free table period. If people - any people- ever eat peanuts on it it defeats the purpose. Ask the PTA if they can read. The school has designated the table as such and the PTA needs to respect that. I would approach the PTA President first. I would be nice, yet firm and unmoving on this. Ask if she would expect anything less for her own children. Arm yourself with a few articles you can give her so that she can understand the issue. Regardless of the response you get, I would go to the principal and ask him or her to clarify the rule for use of that table. Maybe post the rules right on the table. Good luck.

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 9:11am
momjd's picture
Joined: 02/24/2002 - 09:00

There's a post floating around here somewhere about peanut protein lasting on a surface for 6 months. So, I'd say it's worth looking into. If the PTA people can't 'remember' to use a different table, could your dd get a "new" peanut-free table?

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 9:17am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

No, it isn`t practical to get a new peanut free table, as 700 kids would have to be taught that it is a different table that is peanut free. It took a lot of time and repetition to teach these kids not to eat Reese Cups at this one table, and teaching 700 that it is now a different table might confuse some of them---some don`t even speak English. Am I making it more difficult than it is? If we move it to a different table, some of the kids will take their peanuts to the new peanut free table which allowed peanuts yesterday. Not all kids are smart.
The PTA`s answer was that they use a thick tablecloth (paper) which I watched them pick up not at all carefully and crumbs went flying everywhere. I already spoke to the head of the PTA. I am so tired of these battles---just when you have educated everyone you think you need to educate, there is someone new involved in some roundabout way.

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 10:30am
BENSMOM's picture
Joined: 05/20/2000 - 09:00

It seems unlikely to me that the peanut free table is actually the same physical table all the time. Every school cafeteria I've ever been in has the same fold up tables with stools or benches along the sides. At some point, these tables are folded up and put against a wall and the floor is washed or the room is used for some other function. The same table may not be put back in the same spot. Also, I would think that at the end of each day, the tables are cleaned (which may not help with a PTA meeting at night and lunch the next day.) So anyway, if you decide to take on this battle, I'd first make sure that the peanut-free table is actually ONE table.

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 10:41am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

The PTA meeting is from 8:30 in the morning until 9:45. At 9:50 the kids (my daughter too) come in and eat snack, then the kids are back at 12:00 to eat lunch. As huge as these tables are and with 30 or 40 of them, I can`t imagine that they are folded up ever, but I will check. Each table seats about 30 or 40 kids; they are very big. I`ve seen them clean the floor and they just mop under the tables rather than folding them up. It would probably take an hour of someone`s time and several large men to get these tables folded, but definitely I will check. Certainly if it is a different table which is peanut free each day, I don`t need to worry about the PTA, I just can`t imagine such large tables getting folded up.

Posted on: Fri, 05/03/2002 - 1:40pm
Renee111064's picture
Joined: 07/05/2001 - 09:00

I would talk to the PTA president first. IF she is not willing to budge on moving the "snack" table then I would get the principal involved. Definitely!!
I can't believe how grown-ups react to such a small request. [img][/img] I would try to explain to them about your child's peanut allergy. (if you haven't already). Maybe you could speak at a meeting about Peanut allergies and the safety precautions that as a parent that you go through every day.
Oh, just thinking maybe the cafeteria can leave a sign on the table stating no snack allowed on this table because of allergies. This is a thought too, or have your teacher come to the meeting for a few minutes and stress to the PTA that no snacks are allowed at this table.
Just a few thoughts to think about.
best wishes,
Renee [img][/img]

Posted on: Sat, 05/04/2002 - 10:23am
ACBaay's picture
Joined: 03/19/2002 - 09:00

Maybe the peanut-free table can be marked (painted or plaque). Then, others would know not to use it, and you would be assured that it is the same table each day. Also, since the PTA sounds incredibly inflexible (which is very sad), I would just ask the principal to make sure that this simple and very important rule is followed.
Good Luck,

Posted on: Sat, 05/04/2002 - 2:13pm
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

I`m just wondering if the principal will actually take my side on this one. The PTA has a lot of clout, they do all kinds of service for the school, raise about $200,000 a year, etc,etc. I`m just wondering whether due to the politics involved whether the principal will take my side on this. By the way, although the table itself is not marked, there is a HUGE sign above it saying no peanuts and with a picture of a peanut and a line through it, for the kids who are too young to read. The PTA had to have seen the sign, they just chose to ignore it.

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2002 - 2:01pm
rebekahc's picture
Joined: 12/02/1999 - 09:00

Do you have a 504 plan? If you don't I would suggest one for next year. If you do have one and the peanut free table is part of it then I would think that by law the principal has to be on your side.
Good Luck!

Posted on: Sun, 05/05/2002 - 2:15pm
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

Yes we have a 504 plan and yes it includes a peanut free table. The question is does the definition of a peanut free table mean peanut free when the PA child is there or peanut free at all times? That is my question. To me it means at all times, to the PTA it means when my daughter is sitting there. I am trying to find out how other schools with a peanut free table have answered that question.


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