Food Allergies in Schools

Picture of foodFood allergies are a growing food safety concern that affect an estimated 4%–6% of children in the United States. 
 
A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. The body’s immune response can be severe and life threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Although the immune system normally protects people from germs, in people with food allergies, the immune system mistakenly responds to food as if it were harmful.

Eight foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.

The symptoms and severity of allergic reactions to food can be different between individuals, and can also be different for one person over time. Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that may cause death.  Not all allergic reactions will develop into anaphylaxis. Children with food allergies are two to four times more likely to have asthma or other allergic conditions than those without food allergies.

Food Allergy Management Prevention Plan:

1. Ensure the daily management of food allergies in individual students.
2. Prepare for food allergy emergencies.
3. Provide information on food allergies for school staff.
4. Educate students about their food allergies, reactions and response for the school environment.
5. Create and maintain a healthy and safe school environment for students.

There are ways you can work with your school nurse in managing food allergies in schools:

1. Develop the daily management plan for food allergies for your student.
2. Make sure your health care provider provides the information needed for the school nurse to create plans as needed. 
3. Provide direct assistance to help the school nurse in developing a plan for monitoring your student’s food allergies. 
4. The school nurse will coordinate with other district staff, including the food service director.

There is a specific medication authorization form for students that require epinephrine, .  All provisions related to student health and safety are in compliance with the Life Threatening Conditions Law RCW 28A.210.320.   

District Food and Allergy Information

Guidelines for Food Activities at School

Many Classroom enrichment activities include food. For the safety of our students and staff, Edmonds School District's Health Services Department has developed the following food guidelines based on information from Snohomish Health District:

  • Use careful hand washing with soap and hot water before preparing and/or serving food, after using the restroom, after sneezing or coughing, and as necessary when food is being served.
  • Food served to students should be served using disposable gloves or tongs. It is best to use gloves or utensils rather than touch with hands. If gloves or tongs are not available, serve with well washed hands and use minimal touch.
  • Due to increased allergies in children, it is recommended that if there is a known food allergy in the classroom it is preferred that food containing this allergen is not brought into the classroom. This cannot be guaranteed.
  • Commercial cakes, breads, cookies, and other potentially non-hazardous baked goods are preferred.
  • Prepared food from a commercial source is made following strict state and local inspection. For that reason, it is preferred that food items come sealed from the store.
  • Because of the difficulty of providing adequate refrigeration, foods containing milk and dairy products, meat, poultry, eggs, fish,shellfish, potatoes, beans, rice, or cut melons and sprouts are not to be served.
  • No home canned products are allowed.
  • Fresh fruit can be used if it is washed and cut immediately before it is to be served.
  • Never serve unpasteurized juice of any kind, especially apply juice or cider.
  • Canned or bottled drinks are preferable to beverages that are mixed and brought in.
  • Disposable cups, plates, and utensils are preferable.
Guide to Smart Snacks
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