Schools do their best to make sure children have a safe environment to learn in, especially when it comes to food.
For children with food allergies, the schoolday can present a range of situations that need to be managed. The cafeteria presents a problem, as do the bag lunches friends bring to school and the classroom party treats sent by parents.
In 2013, many states introduced bills enabling schools to keep a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors on hand in case a child has a severe allergic reaction, but not in Ohio. There are several groups trying to introduce legislation, according to the
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Some schools are working to keep students are safe when dealing with food allergies during lunchtime.
At Tiffin City Schools, the food service department handles the food allergies of children who deal with the school lunches only, said Jan Beard, food service supervisor.
What to remember
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has several tips to make sure children have a safe start to the school year, including:
Become familiar with the state's policies regarding food allergy education, prevention and emergency care at school.
Be sure the child's medical information is complete, up to date and in a form that is understood by school staff.
Medication should clearly state the child's name and dosage.
Schedule an appointment with the school nurse, teachers and principal.
Talk with cafeteria staff about food choices and special accommodations. Be clear and concise about the seriousness of the allergy.
Talk to children about their responsibility to take medications and not taking food from other children.
"We must have a doctor slip submitted yearly stating the allergy-specific instructions," Beard said. "We will then try to accommodate within reasonable guidelines. My staff is trained in this area and follows our guidelines in place."
The district has a point-of-sale system that makes notations on the child's account. If a child has an allergy, it shows up in red to alert to cashier, Beard said.
The district sends out newsletters at the beginning of every year that lists information. Each individual school handles the medication and reactions of the students.
The district's policy is located at www.tiffincityschools.org.
"Parents make us aware of any allergies on a form sent home the first day," said Connie Weyant, administrative secretary at Bettsville Local Schools. "Students with food allergies names are given to the cooks and servers so they are aware and know when they need to prepare an alternative food item."
When informed by parents and or guardians, Weyant said, the matter is discussed on depending on the severity of the allergy, steps are taken to ensure the student does not eat or drink anything they are not supposed to.
"We do not have this issue at this time, but they would be allowed to keep that medicine in a locked cabinet in the main office to take when needed," Weyant said.
Employees at Bettsville who complete medication administration training are allowed to administer student medications when needed, as there is not a nurse on staff, Weyant said.
"Policy on food allergies is to make sure that they student understands what they can and cannot eat and that classroom teachers and cafeteria workers are aware," Weyant said. "We do not allow students to bring in homemade food, treats for birthdays or other events. Everything must be store-bought and individually wrapped, with the ingredients clearly marked."
At Lakota Local Schools, Jean Geyman, food service director, said she requires a note from a child's physician stating what the allergy is and whether there is a food to be substituted.
"Like, if they an allergy to cow's milk, and it is life-threatening, we have to provide lactose intolerant milk or whatever substitute they can have for that particular allergy," she said.
Geyman said students with peanut allergies are seated at a separate table, to keep them away from even those who might have packed peanut butter sandwiches in their lunches.
"The school nurse at the beginning of the year gives me a list of all kids that have food allergies and I can list that right on their account so when they put their ID number in to get lunch the cashier can see any notes that I have put on their account dealing with allergies" Geyman said.