peanut-free table issue, educators unsure. help

Posted on: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 6:21am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Hi everyone,

It's been a while since I've posted. Last post I mentioned we'd found a private school that has stepped up to the plate and agreed to all the accommodations for our PA daughter.

The school's hot lunch is peanut-free but classmates may bring it in to the building. DD sits at a peanut-free table. Anyone buying hot lunch may sit with her or students who do not have any peanut products. It has been controllable since DD only eats with first and second grade. But the two grades are separated and each grade has a lunch monitor.

We've had four incidents this year where DD sat alone. She is doing fine socially, with the exception of these 4 times. I volunteer for lunch duty in the cafeteria twice weekly. Any time I see a child eating alone I'll ask classmates to be a friend and eat with the child. Someone always agrees.

Last week we had an exceptional situation. Some kids won a lunch at Pizza Hut for reaching a reading goal so almost half the class was gone. I was 5 minutes late for lunch duty and saw DD eating alone while the remaining 8 kids ate ate at one table. I had DD's 2 sisters with me so I didn't ask for a lunch friend, but my daughter did ask me to talk to the teacher. She said, "Can you ask Mrs. W to help me when this happens again?" I was heart broken. I did as my daughter asked and the teacher informed me there have been 3 other occassions where she's eaten alone. We've had very few problems with the school and I'd like for it to remain that way. I was very disappointed to hear this had happened a total of 4 times because this was something I mentioned at parent-teacher conferences. DD is reliant on kids coming to sit with her and doesn't have the luxury of picking her lunch up and moving to another table.

I talked to the school psychologist and asked her how she suggested DD handle this situation if it should arise again, and she said she's never had it arise and needed some time to think about it.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'd like to forward this to DD's teacher and principal in case there are any other kids who might be in this situation in the future.

Thanks so much!!!

Posted on: Sat, 04/08/2006 - 12:12pm
Timmysmom's picture
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Joined: 10/16/2003 - 09:00

First of all, hugs to your daughter for feeling so alone!
My son's situation is a little different as he does not eat in the cafeteria, but you could do this at the peanut free table too. He gets to pick a buddy for lunch, which for him, is someone who is not buying that day and someone who did not bring a bagged lunch with peanut products. This works out wonderfully (started this in Kindergarten and now in 1st grade) and the other children seem to enjoy it as well. The girls in his class tend to fight over him, which is kind of cute!
In the case of the pizza party, possibly the teacher could sit with your daughter in the event another party comes along again, and no other student is available to be a lunch buddy. My non-PA daughter (4th grade) gets to eat lunch with her teacher as a reward once in a while. Her teacher has the attitude that having lunch with the teacher shouldn't be a "lunch detention" (punishment as many teachers do) but more of a "get to know ya" lunch. I know lunch time is a break for teachers, but like any other job, who hasn't "worked" through their lunch break once in a while?
Hopefully your child could do this as well. I hope she never eats alone again!

Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 1:11am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Hi meadow. This also happened to my DD, and I know how you feel. In 4th grade we decided to not utilize the peanut free table any longer. It is still a hurtful memory, and dd still tears up whenever she talks about it....
Couple ideas~
Could your DD sit with the kids eating "hot lunch" since you know it's PF? This is what my niece does, and it has worked very well for her. Her school does not have a "Peanut Free" designated table, but instead has a "hot lunch" designated table and my niece always sits there whether she buys or brings.
Another ideas is to figure out the seating before lunch. Does your classroom teacher have some sort of morning "lunch count" routine? Our second grade teacher implemented an additional "peanut free" category to her lunch count routine, so there was Hot, Bring, "peanut Free". I liked that this really raised awareness of the children, and thinking about w hat food was at lunch become part of the daily integrated routine. The seating was predetermined at the beginning of the day, so there was no last minute figuring out in the cafeteria.

Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 6:15am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Timmysmom,
Thank you for your response. I feel bad asking the teacher to give up her lunch, but I must admit I feel worse having dd sit alone. I'm going to mention it to her and ask dd how she would feel about it too.
This allergy really is such a balancing act - normalcy vs safety. I'm glad there are others here who truly understand it.
Stay safe!

Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 6:22am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Gail,
Thanks for your suggestions and taking the time to respond. Both are very good.
At dd's school the cafeteria staff clean her table off prior to her coming in - 1st and 2nd grades have lunch first. This way, we know that it will be as allergen-free as possible. Even though it's the peanut-free table there are other people who use the cafeteria throughout the day for more than just eating and have who knows what on their hands. Does your niece's school do this for her? Is your niece airborne and contact reactive as well as ingestion reactive? Unfortunately our daughter is highly sensitive to and has reacted all three ways.
I also like the idea of working out a seating arrangement prior to lunch. This is, unfortunately, a little more work for the teacher but a good suggestion.
You are all so great! When you're in the middle of it, it's so hard to see alternative solutions. Thank you.
Stay safe!

Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 9:00am
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Hi Meadow!! I'm glad to hear that the private school is still working out well for your daughter! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
Drew's lunch arrangements are similar to what Gail suggested. In the cafeteria, there are four tables put together to make one long table for each class. Drew sits at one end of the table (with his box lunch) and the other box lunches sit at the other end - with the hot lunches in between. This has worked out well for us, and he is contact and airborne sensitive as well.
Two things that make this work (IMO):
1) The table he sits at is only used for hot lunches (no box lunches are allowed at that table during any lunch period).
2) The tables are wiped between lunch periods, but his is wiped with a clean rag - used only for his table (so nothing from the box lunches is spread to his table).
I have also heard the suggestion of the "peanut table" instead of the "peanut free table". I think it has worked from some, but we haven't had any experience with this.
Good luck! (It breaks my heart to think of her eating alone.... [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] )

Posted on: Sun, 04/09/2006 - 10:21pm
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by meadow:
[b]Does your niece's school do this for her? Is your niece airborne and contact reactive as well as ingestion reactive? [/b]
Yes. Thanks for asking.
Personally, I view wiping the table before eating as mandatory procedure for everyone, including non-FA children. I just general good hygiene. Our school wipes down all the tables in between each lunch group as a universal precaution.

Posted on: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 12:19am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Drew's Mom.
How are you?!!!! Thanks for replying.
I am going to discuss the hot lunch seating arrangement with my husband and see how he feels about it. I think our daughter would LOVE to sit with her peers in a less restrictive area.
I like the idea of a separate cleaning implement used for your son's table.
Our cafeteria using clorox wipes because somewhere we read it breaks down peanut residue and then rinses it off. We also give her a disposable placemat.
After lunch, there are lunch helpers, students, who wipe down the tables with a wet cloth and the other follows drying. It looks surface clean. Since DD is first to eat I know her table would be cleaned by an adult a little more effectively.
Thanks for the suggestions.

Posted on: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 12:22am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Gail,
I couldn't agree with you more about good hygiene. DD's school lets the students clean the tables. I imagine the older grades do a better job. The cafeteria staff double check the efforts. I know they are extra careful with where DD eats. I'm sure they could be just as diligent. This is on the edge of my comfort zone, but I keep thinking about what a balancing act this needs to be.
You are all great. Thanks for the suggestions, it's definitely given me a new perspective to think about.....
Stay safe

Posted on: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 1:10am
Gail W's picture
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Joined: 12/06/2001 - 09:00

Pretty much the same at our school~ the monitors would re-clean DD's table.
Quote:Originally posted by meadow:
[b] DD's school lets the students clean the tables.[/b]
That reminds me . . .
is your DD is excused from this duty? We had it written into Mariah's plan that she was exempt from cleaning the tables or picking up trash from the floor. (She viewed that as one of the few 'perks' of her allergy. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img] )
Good luck with this. It certainly is a balancing act.

Posted on: Mon, 04/10/2006 - 2:25am
meadow's picture
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Joined: 10/21/2003 - 09:00

Gail,
Yes, our daughter is excused from being lunch helper. She gets to do other things like be ball helper (bring a bin of balls outside for recess) and hand out papers. Our DD is not much of a neat freak so she really doesn't mind not helping clean off tables. She is responsible for making sure her table is neat before she leaves the cafeteria. They have also moved the trash cans further away from her table.
We've really only had a couple things we've needed to hone this school year. The biggest challenge was handwashing since there is no sink in the classroom. DD had a contact reaction from her best friend who lied about washing up after eating a PB & J sandwich. The nurse and teacher handled the situation quickly and all was well with only a dose of benadryl. We were lucky. Immediately afterward the nurse retaught the children how to was their hands. The teacher said she talked to the class and explained quite frankly how serious this could have been and why they need to help our daughter stay safe. I look at it as a blessing in disguise - we found out the staff is on the ball, they had EpiPen in hand ready to use in case Benadryl was not effective. DD's best friend was extremely upset, and her parents called to check on DD.
There is a child two grades ahead of DD with a PA. From what I understand, this boy's mother is extrememly proactive and educated about PA. So, I lucked out because she did most of the work for me. The nurse was already on board and DD's teacher taught him and also understood the situation.
I don't know who the child is or the mother, but I'm very thankful we didn't have to pave the way at this school.
Overall we're pleased, but just need to hone the lunch situation. Let's hope DD continues to be safe and all continues to go well.
Sorry to ramble and get so off topic.
Stay safe

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