It’s National School Lunch Week, but with a growing number of kids suffering from food allergies, lunchtime can pose risks. It can also worry parents who may not be there to assist their child in preventing allergic reactions. Parents may worry about food sharing between classmates or about kids sampling something off the school menu that may contain allergens. But thankfully, a little preparation can go a long way in heading off allergic reactions in the cafeteria.
Know the school’s snack policy
As food allergies increase, more schools are adopting policies to create safer environments for food-allergic kids. Some school cafeterias have a no-nut policy. It doesn’t extend to home-packed lunches but prevents the cafeteria from serving anything with nuts. Others may have food sharing policies that keep kids from swapping lunch items.
Talk to the administration
Bring your child’s food allergies to the attention of school leadership. If they don’t currently have smart policies in practice, you can be the catalyst for change. You can point them to https://www.foodallergy.org as a great starting place. The website is sponsored by F.A.R.E. (Food Allergy Research and Education) and contains helpful ideas and forms for communicating your child’s allergy-related health needs and emergency plans.
Talk to the School Cafeteria
If your child enjoys school meals, approach the cafeteria about what ingredients are used. Talk to the staff about their schedule of meals, suggest ideas, and promote awareness for food allergies. Make sure that the cafeteria staff has an emergency plan (also available on the F.A.R.E. website) and knows how to respond should your child ever have a significant allergic reaction.