Managing Food Allergies In School

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,813
    Living Without Magazine editor Alicia Woodward provides tips for parents to prepare food-allergic children for school.

    Alicia Woodward: Hi! I am Alicia Woodward, Editor of Living Without, the world's leading magazine for people with food allergies and sensitivities. Today I would like to talk with you about food allergies and how to keep your child safe at school. The first day of school is a watershed moment for every child, but for food allergic children it's particularly momentous. School plunges them into an environment with exposure to potential allergens over which parents have limited control. As the number of food allergic students continues to increase, it's a challenge that more families are facing. Here are tips to help keep your child safe at school. First, do your homework. Find other parents of food allergic kids and work together. If you are new, find out your school's food allergy policies. Prepare a one page emergency action plan with the help of your doctor. Provide the school with your child's medications, noting expiration dates. Make certain that all permission forms are signed and up-to-date. Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet. Second, build a team. Before this first day of school meet with your child's teacher, school nurse, head of cafeteria services, and the principal, if possible. Talk with a nurse to determine if a 504 Plan is appropriate for you. This refers to Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is a legally enforceable document outlining the accommodations the school must make for a disabled child. Only certain food allergic conditions are considered disabling and therefore eligible for ADA protection. Third, review the school's emergency action plan at the meeting. If none exists, encourage the school to draft one. Take notes in this meeting and follow up on any undecided issues. Ask the school to send out a letter on official letterhead to inform parents that a food allergic student is in their child's class. And lastly, promote communication. Be a regular visitor at your child's school. Volunteer to be room parent or to chaperone field trips or plan holiday parties. Give parents and staff your contact information so they can easily reach you. Communicate with school officials calmly, confidently, and frequently. By staying involved with your child's school, you will help ensure your child's health and safety.