Food Allergy Management Program
by Mary Gricus
A state law that became effective January 1, 2011, requires that all Illinois school districts implement policies and procedures for preventing and managing life-threatening allergic reactions at school. In compliance with Public Act 96-349, our Board of Education adopted Policy 7:285-Food Allergy Management Program in November of 2010. The Food Allergy Management Program found at the link below outlines all procedures and forms related to the Board policy.
In order to effectively manage life-threatening food allergies, schools have the responsibility to monitor foods provided for students and to control distribution of foods that may contain allergens. This is a daunting task. While we can implement controls and appropriate cleaning procedures in and around the lunch room, we do not have the personnel capacity or expertise to check and verify that foods eaten in every classroom are allergen-free and that all surfaces are cleaned frequently and effectively enough to prevent transfer of allergens. Students with allergies travel throughout the building into other classrooms and common areas every day, so, restricting food only in their homeroom classrooms will not suffice. The consequence of doing something wrong in these cases is irreversible. A major medical incident that results from an allergic reaction in a situation that could have been prevented would be a tragedy.
Therefore, these procedures are in effect for all of our students:
1. Parents may bring/send lunch or purchase a school lunch for their children only.
2. K-5 students who wish to celebrate their birthday at school may donate a book for the classroom library or bring a classroom supply (e.g., pencil, eraser, small notepad, crayons, markers) for each student in the class. Edible birthday treats will not be allowed. Recommendations for book selections can be found at www.readingrockets.org/books. Classroom teachers may also provide a “wish list” for their classroom libraries.
3. The only refreshments that can be served at classroom celebrations/parties are 100% juice and bottled water (individual containers only). There will be no food served during school celebrations/parties. Crafts and other activities will be the focus during these events. “Goody bags” and any other edible treats will not be sent home with students. Any edibles and goody bags that are brought/sent to school will be held in the school office for the sending parents to pick up. Food items that are not picked up after one week will be discarded.
4. Snacks will generally not be permitted during school hours. Students may drink water through the day, unless water bottles are prohibited by an individual class, grade level, or school disciplinary restriction. Exceptions: 1) A grade level may be scheduled for a fresh fruit or fresh vegetable snack if the school schedule is such that there is an extended period of time from the start of school until the lunch period. This exception will be scheduled at the sole discretion of the building principal; and 2) Food required to meet a component of a student’s Section 504 Plan or IEP is allowed.
5. Students may not share food with each other at school.
We belong to a learning community that is dedicated to the well-being of its children, so we must protect the health and safety of our students to the best of our ability. If you have any questions about these procedures, please contact your school’s nurse. Thank you for your cooperation in following these procedures for food at school. The support of our parents and families is vital to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.