school lunch

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2007 - 4:41am
amy2's picture
Joined: 09/02/2000 - 09:00

Just venting. Last week, my son is sitting in the peanut free section of his lunch room. Kids are not supposed to save seats or move once they sit. The ladies in the cafe have said my son can save a seat since he rarely gets to sit with his friends. He is in 4th grade, and now kids are saying it isn't fair that he gets to dot this. They all get 10 tables to choose from, he gets 3. Usually he gets to lunch late, and really only gets to choose from a few seats. Many days he sits with kids he isn't fond of. The peanut free area is a popular area, it fills up quick. I also work at the school, in the cafe and recess. So now, I have told both my PA/TNA kids, no more saving seats. It just stinks. They get the *&%$ end of the stick again. He is at that age where kids are starting to take it out on him for some strange reason. Also, every year, things have gone so well with BD snacks, not this year. Every snack bought in has been peanut obvious. His teacher is just awesome, but he can only do so much! Thanks, for listening!

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2007 - 12:00pm
falcon's picture
Joined: 07/03/2004 - 09:00

UGH! That is so frustrating. Reminds me of a situation in camp at snack. The counselor told me to stop giving my son such yummy snacks because the other kids are getting jealous. I couldn't believe it. At lunch the kids get a choice of many delicious freshly baked treats, none of which my son can havc and they made a fuss because my son had better snacks than they did! Really incredible. The school should be supporting him by encouraging the other kids to show some empathy and consideration.

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2007 - 1:16pm
NicoleinNH's picture
Joined: 06/21/2003 - 09:00

[This message has been edited by NicoleinNH (edited June 10, 2007).]

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2007 - 9:51pm
saknjmom's picture
Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

At our school, each child that sits at the allergy table is allowed to invite one or two classmates to sit with them. This makes it easier for the lunches from non allergic kids who are sitting with them to be checked and the allergic kids get to sit by one of their friends.

Posted on: Sun, 01/28/2007 - 11:20pm
amy2's picture
Joined: 09/02/2000 - 09:00

Thanks everyone! Our school is almost peanut free. The school lunch program has been awesome, and there are no peanut products or may contains in the hot lunch. My son has always bought cold lunch, he's in 4th gr now. Last year he was begging to try hot. He now has hot lunch a few times a week. Both of my kids' classroom teachers send out notes reminding snacks for bdays to be peanut free. Every year up to 4th grade was great. Parents have been thoughtful. Some parents are still. But there are always those few, you know. My daughter is in 1st, and they do books for birthdays! But last year, her Kgtn class was pretty good as well.. The older the kids get, the worse attention parents of students pay to the allergy. I have told my son it is part of this allergy, he'll have to deal with in life. It isn't fair, but it is life. Luckily, he is my easy going one! My daughter on the other hand, gets very upset when she can't have the same snack as others. My son has never really cared. I do offer alternatives, better ones, to make it better for them both. Anyway, thanks everyone!
Take Care, Amy

Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2007 - 1:34am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

In our school, each class gets 2 tables. They can sit where they want within those two tables, unless they have misbehaved to the point of having assigned seats.
There is a peanut-free table, where my DS sits, as well as other PA/TNA kids. They can each invite a friend or two to sit with them (obviously that friend cannot be eating a PBJ). DS sometimes invites friends to sit with him, but not always. I think he is a little shy about that. I was worried about it, but not as much anymore--his teacher has told me he's the most popular kid in the class.

Posted on: Tue, 03/03/2015 - 2:42am's picture
Joined: 03/03/2015 - 09:13

My heart is breaking for you and your son. My son will be starting school in the fall, and I'm already fearful of situations like this.
I have a few questions that affect some of my suggestions below.
1. Are the school lunches nut free?
2. Are you able to get a menu and ingredient list in advance?
3. Does your son bring lunch everyday?
Here are my thoughts, but they may not work depending upon your answers above.
A). If school lunches are peanut free, have all kids that bring their lunch sit at a table together. Then your son can eat his lunch with the others that are eating the safe school lunches.
B). If your school lunches are not peanut fee, perhaps there are days that peanuts are not on the menu? Pizza day? If you have a menu and ingredient list, perhaps you can select days that would be safe for him to join and sit with his peers?
C). Get the school counselor involved. Get him a spot at the boys table. Bullying is a hot topic now in schools... hint at the fact that you don't want him to be bullied due to his allergy.
Good luck to you and your son with this challenge. I hope your school will team up to find a better solution.

Posted on: Tue, 03/03/2015 - 5:10am
MadelynesMom's picture
Joined: 12/03/2012 - 14:51

I really feel for you and your son. The schools don't get how isolating this can be. My daughter sits at the peanut/nut free table with mostly boys. She says she's friends with the boys and doesn't seem to mind and sometimes a few of her girl friends will sit at the table. I'm not a fan of the peanut table myself, I feel it's discriminatory and when voicing my opinion, was asked just recently, "What do you want us to do? Put her in a separate room?!"
And this from a social worker. Pretty scary. Anyway, the point is, sometimes the school just doesn't get what a awkward situation this can be for a kid. It's awkward for a new kid in second grade and for my daughter who's in fifth and knows everybody. I know if it was me, I'm not gonna beg someone to come eat with me after being turned down a few times, it stinks. Definitely things need to change. If you ask me it's a huge example of bullying by the very people in charge. There are very few people that get it. Keep on advocating mom. Things will change with moms that speak out. Be the squeaky wheel!
Good luck to your son!

Posted on: Tue, 03/03/2015 - 5:23am's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015 - 13:52

The school is not nut free but they have nut free options that the kids can buy. They have the crustables and a yogurt parfait that are not safe for him to eat but both are made off campus so I'm comfortable with the safety of the hot lunch he eats. He buys his lunch each day so that he's fair to those that may potentially sit with him as they are only allowed to sit at the peanut free table if they buy hot lunch.
They do not segregate based on school lunch or lunch from home at the other tables and many in his class bring PB&J from home or eat reeses peanut butter cups which seem to be a favorite. Even if they did buy from school, the kids have the option of buying a crustable.
I had a meeting today with the administration. They don't want to incorporate him into the general population as they are concerned of a reaction. Frankly, my son doesn't want to sit with them either given all the consumption of peanuts. We're going to do some peer education in the hopes that kids will realize how isolating it is and how best to keep him safe. I'm going to incorporate some black light/germ technology to show the kids that washing hands and keeping surfaces safe is important for someone with food allergies. I convinced them to give the kids reward tickets once we see some people making a move to the peanut free table.
They choose lunch options in the morning and they are going to make the peanut free table a lunch option so they can start seeing if he's going to be eating alone and address it before the lunch rush. I've started to cultivate some of his classmates in the hopes that we can build some stronger bonds and the kids will take an interest in sitting with him. However, this year might be a lost cause. We only have 3 months left and I'm afraid the behaviors are ingrained now. We'll see. I was hopeful at the beginning of the year, not so much now.

Posted on: Wed, 03/04/2015 - 10:32am's picture
Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, answers one of the questions posted in our community.
Our Answer:
Thank you for your question. We are very sorry to hear about your son’s experience at school.
Dealing with isolation can be difficult, but it may help to know that others have been in this situation. Check out two previous discussions among our members about their kids eating alone at a nut-free table here and here.
Kids with food allergies can struggle with feeling left out by their peers. Check out tips to help your son feel accepted here.
Some children don’t know how to adjust to the attention such an allergy can bring. Check out how to help your child cope with the embarrassment of being singled out here.
Furthermore, cookbook author Elizabeth Gordon suggests that alienation could be avoided. Find out what her solutions are here.
Teasing could also stem from the lack of understanding about allergies. You can share this video about what kids wish others knew about food allergies.
We asked our Facebook community to share their thoughts and here’s what they had to say.
We wish both you and your son the best!

Posted on: Wed, 03/04/2015 - 12:00pm
Saralinda's picture
Joined: 01/12/2004 - 09:00

Isolation at the lunch table is the worst! I was the PA kid years ago when they didn't isolate us for being allergic, but I was the talkative kid so they made me eat by myself so I would concentrate on eating. Guess what! It only made me eat more slowly. I'm sorry I don't have a solution, but I do feel your kid's pain.

Posted on: Wed, 03/04/2015 - 12:10pm
mom1995's picture
Joined: 11/09/2004 - 09:00

First of all I am so VERY sorry for your son's experience.
Second 'exclusion' is the very opposite of inclusion and absolutley a violation of his civil rights. If his allergy effects his ability to breathe which IS a 'vital life function' then he protected by section 504 of the Americans with Disability Act.
It sounds like maybe his school has no idea how to accomidate his allergy. So you may need to find and print some sample plans and help to educate his school. If you are in the US then your school dist should have a 504 Cordinator. That person is sent for special training to protect the school. Get a meeting with that person if you can not get threw to the teacher or the principal.
Lastly, I would not use the bribe option. You son needs people who want to be around him because they got to know him and enjoy his company. He should be allowed to eat with the other students and have that social time just like everyoe else. I never allowed any one to make our daughter be isolated. At this age you have stand up and be his voice. Start at home asking him what he wants to make life better then with him by your side tell the adults that are responsible for his safety what that is. Continue to stand your ground until those accomidations are met. You will be teaching you son how to speak up and showing him his value.
As our daughter is grown now and off to college I know she has the ability and confidence to tell anyone what she needs to be safe. She also understands her rights and how to effectivley educate anyone that does not.
Hope this helps. Good luck and keep asking here. Many great folks with many great views and advice. You will know which is right for you.

Posted on: Wed, 03/04/2015 - 11:33pm's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015 - 13:52

Thanks for the thoughts on the coordinator. I hadn't thought about that route and it's a great idea.
He and I are going to put together a presentation that talks about his allergy and present it to the class. We're going to do that each year as the school year begins so that hopefully, the kids are educated and know what it means to sit at that table. We're going to include a hand washing exercise as I see that many of the kids are eating their peanut butter products and not even washing their hands after lunch. If nothing else, maybe we'll get some better hand washers out of it and less germs being shared! lol
I also asked them to remove the restriction that he can only invite one friend. It was a light bulb when I asked in our meeting why we weren't offering him the option of filing up the table if he wants to create a larger group that sits with him.
Congrats on your daughters making it to college with such great ability to advocate for herself. My son does a fantastic job when it comes to the food aspect. I just need to work with him on the social part so that he knows he can fight for that too.
Thanks again for taking to time to write.

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 1:17am
jap's picture
Joined: 08/11/2013 - 08:33

When my daughter was in grades 1-4 she went to the secretary office and they had lunch together, special time and she was not isolated
Grade 4 on wards the school cafeteria went peanut free, not the school so kids could bring in peanut butter thus maintaining their rights.
If any one of her friends took a school lunch tray they could sit with her at the peanut free table.
As far as items saying may contain or made on same equipment they are safe to be around just not to eat for the PA child, it is the neat raw sticky peanut butter that your child should not be around
Good luck

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 1:48am
ivegot4's picture
Joined: 09/29/2008 - 11:45

My oldest pa kid is 14 now. Our approach with him is to cultivate friendships with kids who don't mind making the effort to help him stay safe. We spend a lot of time talking to our kids about how it is their responsibility to keep themselves safe. The world is full of people who won't "get it." Our children need to learn to advocate for themselves. To speak up for what they need and what makes them safe.
This is not an easy road, but it does make for some pretty strong kids. Have your child be bold in asking his friends to make an effort to include him. Help him talk to the parents of his friends so they will be on board as well.
We have found that most kids and parents are happy to make adjustments when there is a personal connection rather than just a rule or system set up by the administration.
The school is just the first of a lifetime of situations where they have to figure out how to stay safe. Give them tools to educate rather than trying to protect their feelings. They will be left out sometimes, their friends will forget, and there will be bullies. Your child can't control those things, but he can be ready to handle them when they happen. You can give him the power to be his own advocate. This isn't just about what happens in second grade or third grade, it's about what happens at summer camp, in the break room at his first job, and at his in-laws' house at Thanksgiving 20 years from now. Give him a voice to stand up for himself for the rest of his life.
Stepping off the soapbox now. ????

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 3:02am
hagstro4's picture
Joined: 08/03/2004 - 09:00

My son has been airborne to peanuts since the first grade. He is now in fifth grade . He sits at a separate table in the lunchroom away from anyone with nuts. They sit near the walls. He picks two friends to eat with him every day. They are the same friends for the entire year. If by chance someones parent forgets n sends nuts then they sit with the general population. This has worked out well. He is not gage only nut allergic child but gage only airborne child. All nut allergy kids sit at the same tables n are allowed to pick their two friends. Hope this helps

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 8:35am
cathlina's picture
Joined: 06/29/2001 - 09:00

As a peanut allergy adult I intentionally isolate myself at lunch at work. It is safer for me. No risk of cross contamination for me. Try to put a positive spin on this if you can. Maybe the other kids are trying to keep your child safe. Maybe a teacher or counselor school could eat lunch with him.

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 10:38am
mom65's picture
Joined: 11/09/2012 - 09:31

My son is highly allergic to peanuts/ tree nuts. He goes to a Catholic School with about 400 kids. The school lunches that are sold are nut free. What if you forget your lunch? The school serves turkey sandwiches (not PBJ). He sits at a nut free table but always has friends to sit with. They make the class have just enough seats so no one sits alone. Training started in Kindergarten with parents and children. He is almost 12. New children have been added to the class and education has continued. We have a committee made up of parents and nurse and we make recommendations on how we want things to be handled and they usually complie with our request.
The school can't control what people bring for lunch but they can control what they serve. The less nuts in the cafeteria the better.
Good luck!

Posted on: Sun, 03/08/2015 - 12:53pm
peanutfreenana's picture
Joined: 11/11/2014 - 20:01

We have chosen to ask the school to surround our little one with school lunch kids. Conferencing with the cafeteria manager, we discovered that school lunches cannot contain peanuts or tree nuts. They do not have to go down to the "may contain" level but our first grader knows not to share lunch, etc. Another parent with a nut allergic child wanted to do this too so we agreed to avoid all nuts in my granddaughters lunch so they could sit together amongst friends. We live in the tropics where meat could spoil so most home lunch kids bring peanut butter. She has been in school for two years and no incidents have occurred.

Posted on: Tue, 03/10/2015 - 5:18am's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015 - 13:52

I went into school today and did a presentation that was available at FARE on the PAL program. It's basically how friends can be good PALs to friends that have allergies. I also read "Nutley, the nut free squirrel". I then brought out the black light, light box and florescent gel that we used to show how to wash hands to keep allergens out of the classroom. The last part I did because I know how curious 2nd graders are and how engaged they would be with a hands on activity involving goo. The kids were incredible and clamoring to sign up to sit at the peanut free table. He had 5 friends sitting with him today and they were all talking about how they want to continue to sit there. It was a great success and I plan on continuing the activity at the beginning of each year in elementary school. Not sure what I'll do once we move up to middle school but hopefully by then, he will have developed the group of friends that will be comfortable to be around him in a safe way. I was incredible encouraged by today. Oh and I laughed out loud at one child who shared with me that whenever her grandfather eats candy, he has less lives to live. Man the things that kids say. Priceless. Thanks of everyone for your thoughts and support. It has helped me navigate this hurdle immensely.

Posted on: Tue, 03/10/2015 - 8:22am
mom1995's picture
Joined: 11/09/2004 - 09:00

That is so WONDERFUL to read! ! ! Thank you for sharing as someone else in need will read and you have help'd them too ! ! !
By middle school our daughter did have a select group of friends that were willing to stab her with her epipen at any moment. Was a kind of joke.... if you wanted to hang with her we had to know you would do it if needed. Mostly they were extra eyes and ears and kept people with nuts away. She played school sports, she was in the band and she did many things with her friends as they were there to support her. Those young ladies are all now out in the world and just as aware as if they had the allergy. Great to educate where ever you can. By high school there was no stoping our daughter at being her own voice and on one occassion feeling strong enough to get her phone out at school and filming an event that was a clear violation of her 504. She was very strong in demanding the Principal and not anyone else to speak with. By the time I recieved the call she had handled it all. That's when you KNOW you did right. Each school has its own ups and downs and challenges. Being persistant and a clear voice is the key to success. Sounds like you and your son on well on your way !! ! !

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