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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Nut Free Classrooms, Good Idea?

There's a lot more food allergy awareness due to increased prevalence. Some schools have created nut free zones in an effort to protect food allergic students. Wanting to protect food allergic students is very important but is this the best way? You can declare a school "nut free" but does that mean it is? If kids and staff bring in their own food from home, can the school really guarantee a nut free zone to parents? Does this create a false sense of security? What about the milk, wheat, and egg allergic kids? Should we create schools without those as well? Read more about this topic here:

What's your opinion? Let me know in the comments section below


  1. In my school, since it is small and my child does not have enough peers that would be sitting at his "separate allergen free table", this would be yet another obstacle to the social interaction that is sometimes just as important an experience as the academics he's getting at any other part of the day. While it's true other kids could theoretically sit with him, you're asking for kids to go beyond what is easiest for them which is to bring what they want to eat and sit where they want to sit. If a school could successfully address the bullying issue and sensitivity training that is necessary in the scenario presented above that would be one thing, but that has unfortunately not been my experience.

  2. Miriam, you bring up an important point about socialization. It's always a balance with keeping our food allergic safe and "in the loop". This is a highly individual process. Best of luck with this challenge to you and the rest of us!

  3. Tamar, this is SUCH a sensitive topic and as a school nurse , I'm right in the crosshairs.
    I have a great deal of sympathy and concern for ALL students with ALL types of food allergies.
    To get more clarity as to how to proceed , years ago I met with a top pediatric allergist.( I didn't get his permission to be quoted here , so he will remain anonymous)His approach was right in line with your opening paragraph (sorry blog,tweet ,toot whatever..) namely , that there are many different food allergies that can cause anaphylaxis and that the only difference with peanuts that it can be airborne , but that is ONLY if you have an actual peanut in the shell.....last seen in the good ole days of none upscale mishloach monos.
    Anyhow ,given that our school has no hot lunch program and peanut butter is truly a staple I did not make the very large girl's school that I work in peanut free.We do have several peanut free classrooms in younger grades as well as the gym being peanut free.We have Benadryl/Epipens in many locations and trained responders
    On the other hand , the Boy's school is peanut free as per the School Nurse there.
    I get a lot of grief from the more militant parents , and my response is that it would in fact be much easier in a way to do the same for the girls but would be a tremendous Tircha Tzibbur and also nothing anyone can really enforce 100%.
    Interestingly , the only kids that I've seen that have really repeatedly had serious reactions are those who have a virtually peanut free house.There are many other kids who have even had an anaphylactic reaction at some point , but live in a home where there are peanut products. They seem to weather all but actual peanut ingestion far better
    Which supports the theory that the reason that there are very few Israeli kids with peanut allergies , is that the #1 snack in Israel is Bamba:peanut puffs.
    Ok, that's about all I have time for on this subject.
    Good Shabbos one & all

    1. Kudos to you and your school Chany that you have benadryl and epipens readily available at your school and just as importantly people who know how and when to give them.School food allergy management is a hot button topic. It is a delicate dance between parents, staff, students, and the parents of the other non-allergic students. You might want to check out the school tab of this blog for more in depth coverage of the issues at hand as well as food allergy laws by state. Regarding the popular Israeli peanut snack Bamba , peanut allergy is lower in Israel than the US. Introducing allergenic foods earlier is a controversial topic for another time.