When a child with an allergy is in your classroom, or in your child’s classroom, precautions must be taken. This is a potentially deadly condition that be be triggered through consumption, inhalation of dust particles, or touch. The last thing you want is to be the cause of a reaction in a food allergic child.
Keep Banned Foods OUT
Teachers and schools ban specific foods for a specific reason: to keep a highly allergic child safe. It is not to take away a lunch choice for your picky child. It is not be weird about food, or run up your grocery bill, or make your life harder.
Again, this is because a child is deathly allergic to a particular food or foods. And one particle, one small whiff of that food might KILL him.
You need to abide by the ban at all costs. No nuts means no almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, macadamia nuts, no nuts means no nuts at all. No milk, no dairy, no tomatoes, whatever the off-limits food is means that you keep it at home.
Even if you keep those banned foods at home, even a trace on your child’s hands from a PB&J or yogurt could set off a reaction. Your child, and the child with the allergy, will touch the same water fountains, door handles, and playground equipment. Your child will transfer trace amounts of allergens to all of those surfaces, which can then be picked up by the allergic child, and cause a reaction.
The best, and only, way to prevent these kinds of transfers is to teach thorough hand washing. According to the CDC, there are five steps to follow for proper hand washing:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water
- Apply soap and lather it up
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds (the length of “Happy Birthday”) getting in between fingers, under nails, and the front/back
- Rinse hands under running, clean water
- Dry your hands using a clean towel. Using a dirty towel would further contaminate your hands
Sharing is for Suckers
If certain foods are banned, and you are abiding by the ban, then this might not be a problem. However, for more mild allergies there might not be a food ban of any kind. In this case, you need to DRILL the importance of not sharing food, EVER. Yes, I know, this goes against the “sharing is caring” rule that we all learned in kindergarten and preschool.
For kids with allergies, their parents pack very specific foods for them at school. They have food restrictions, and deviating from those could have devastating consequences. This means that they can eat nothing that has not been vetted. Not even those all natural, organic gummy bears.
Tell your kids to keep their food to themselves.
Yes, send your child with lunch and personal snacks, but check with the teacher before sending anything else in to school, especially if it is a sharing situation. If you really feel the need to pass out goodies to the kids, stick to non-food items. Some cool things to send: sticky note pads for each student, a variety pack of stickers or temporary tattoos, pencils, pencil toppers, a new classroom book, or a cool magazine subscription.
Later this week, I’ll post fun ideas for class parties and birthday celebrations!
Bottom line: Don’t be THAT parent that thinks rules about food safety don’t apply to them. Keep known allergenic foods OUT of your child’s classroom. Trust me, you don’t want to have to question whether or not your child’s PB&J caused their friend to go to the hospital.