Moms coach schools on allergy-free foods
BY MARY ELLEN WALSH and BRIAN HARMON DAILY NEWS WRITERS A peanut can kill 4-year-old Maya Konoff. So can a kiss on the lips from someone who just drank milk or ate a sesame seed bagel. The Port Washington preschooler is severely allergic to peanuts, eggs, sesame seeds, all tree nuts and anything dairy.
But thanks to her mom, Jill Mindlin, and Amanda Bromberg of Roslyn, whose 5-year-old son, Tyler, also suffers from life-threatening food allergies, Maya's elementary school may be a bit safer for allergy sufferers by the time she hits kindergarten.
Mindlin and Bromberg drafted the food allergy guidelines that were forwarded by the county's health commissioner this fall to the superintendent's office in every Nassau County school district.
The guidelines aim to "educate and train elementary schools on food allergy issues," said Nassau Legislator Craig Johnson, a Democrat who helped draft the recommendations.
Last year, 200 deaths across the country resulted from food allergies. And according to the nonprofit Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, one in every 25 school-age children are diagnosed with food allergies.
The mothers said they realize it may be unrealistic to ask all children and parents to restrict the contents of children's lunchboxes and morning snacks. Rather, their main goal is to create awareness.
"We're hoping to get systems in place so that the majority of children with food allergies can go to school safely," said Mindlin, a finance attorney in Manhattan. "What you know can help my daughter. And the more people who know, the safer she'll be."
The "Food Allergy Guidelines for Schools" include:
Provision of educational programs for school personnel.
Ensuring the child's emergency medicine is immediately accessible.
Encouraging a "no food-sharing" policy and having communication systems in place between teachers, school nurses, cafeteria, etc. "Previously, establishing school guidelines was primarily left up to the school districts and varied greatly, adding to parents concern," said Beth Horn, a volunteer with FAAN. "This is a big step in safeguarding our children."
Eight foods - peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans), fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy and wheat - make up 90% of most food allergies, according to FAAN.
For further information on food allergies, go online to: [url="http://www.foodallergy.org."]www.foodallergy.org.[/url]
Originally published on October 18, 2005
On Oct 18, 2005