Back to school is here again. For most families, this time brings a lot of excitement, but for those parents who have children with food allergies, it can also induce worry. The wide array of food in the school cafeteria may provoke kids’ allergies, and not all schools are equipped to deal effectively with kids’ reactions.
If you have a child who suffers from food allergies, planning in advance and taking steps to minimize allergic reactions are vital. Here are some tips to consider:
Talk to Your Child’s Doctor before Classes Begin
If you suspect food allergies, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. You might also ask the doctor about a few important forms that you could present to validate your child’s allergy and enlist the school’s help:
- Medical Authorization
- Special Dietary Needs Accommodation
- Emergency Care Plan (ECP)
Notify the School
Reach out to relevant school officials to discuss your child’s allergy (administrator, school nurse, teacher, etc.) Present appropriate forms to explain the nature of your child’s allergy. Discuss how you would like to handle treats that may come into the classroom at class parties or during birthday celebrations. Work with school staff to formulate a plan in the event that your child starts displaying food allergy symptoms. Helpful forms are available on this website: https://www.foodallergy.org.
Visit the School Cafeteria Director
Learn about the meal schedule. Observe how and where food is prepared, distributed, and eaten.
Train and Regularly Remind Your Child
Your child is their own first line of defense. Encourage them to wash their hands and maintain proper hygiene when exposed to areas where food circulates. Remind them how to minimize exposure to allergens. Help them learn to recognize when they are having an allergic reaction and know how to properly react to it.