Friday, September 21, 2012

Nut Allergy at School: A Sample Note from the Teacher

In my experience with elementary school, it's a good idea to let the parents of your child's classmates know about food allergies in the classroom. This not only helps reduce the incidence of unwanted and allergenic foods making their way into the classroom for parties and other events, but it also gives parents an idea of why this is happening and why the policy was instituted. The more the school backs you up on this, the better. Plus, some kids' Individual Health Plans or 504 Plans include a policy of reducing  or eliminating certain foods in the classroom.
Some teachers like to issue a letter at the start of the school year. Others may issue reminder notes before class parties or events. Our daughter's elementary school teachers have done this and it's been very helpful.

The note does not have to be long or filled with medical detail. Keep it informative, but also short, sweet and to the point. Notes don't solve everything, and I know parents get a lot of notes sent home that they disregard. But the benefit of the teacher issuing a note shows parents that this is policy and just part of the class rules.

Here is a sample note from the teacher alerting classmates’ parents to the presence of nut allergies in the classroom. Despite the fact that most elementary schools in the U.S. are not nut-free throughout the school, many classrooms strive to be nut-free in order to reduce additional risk from foods. This letter reflects that type of policy.
For every teacher who helps keep our kids safe and healthy during the school day, THANK YOU!
Sample Note to Parents from Your Child’s Teacher

Dear Parents,

This year we have students in our 4th grade class with severe allergies to peanuts and/or tree nuts. Because of the seriousness of this allergy, we are asking you to refrain from sending peanut or tree nut products to school for snacks or class parties. 

Your child is still able to eat what they like in the lunch room, where a peanut-free table will be available for allergic students or students who have not brought nut products with them that day. However, due to shared computer equipment and art supplies in the classroom, as well as the ease with which food residue is transferred from one student to the other, we would like to keep our classroom “nut-free.” 

Our goal is to make school a safe place for all of our students. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. If you have any questions, please contact (your child’s teacher). For a great source of food allergy information, visit


Your Teacher’s Name
What about your school? Do they issue a note or reminders about not bringing in certain foods?


Kelly said...

Thanks for posting. I don't remember eating in the classroom when I went to school. Childhood obesity affects more children than food allergies do and presents a greate threat to public , and eliminating junk food in the classroom is a good start. It's a win-win situation for all involved.

Anonymous said...

Hi Moms,

My 4 year old daughter started going to school this year and we came to know that the school is not a nut free school. My daughter is the only one in the class allergic to nuts. They informed me that according to the school policy they will not provide any food from outside.

The snack policy in the school is, everyday one parent bring snacks to the whole class.

My daughter can not eat any of that snacks. Though this is a safe option, not giving her even fruits and vegetables feels so wrong. She came home last week and I was peeling apple and she told me that they did apple cutting as a school activity and all of her friends get to enjoy the apple but not her. It breaks my heart. Please tell me if this is a normal policy they follow in all schools here or just this one? Is there a way that I can get the school to change this policy? I really appreciate any comments.


Jenny said...

I'm sorry--I'd really like to help. As I understand your post: The school is asking parents to provide treats and these are obviously not safe since they are a)not nut-free and b)you have no idea where they are coming from/who is providing them.

Change is always possible but it doesn't always happen as quickly as we would like. What were the accommodations made before your daughter entered school? Did they say they could help you and work with you?

Obviously, don't let your daughter have any food from outside sources that you haven't approved. As hard as it is, she shouldn't eat an apple that has been sliced in an environment that may harbor cross-contact risk.

I would be concerned about these snacks and the policies, too. Many preschools (and even some kindergartens) are becoming nut-free these days. It all depends on how educated a school is about allergies and how much they are willing to support the food-allergic kids.

School environments can be made safer than what you are experiencing right now and the trend is for nut-free preschools these days. I think you should ask to speak to the school and share your concerns about snacks/policies. For example, are the kids who are eating unsafe snacks washing their hands afterward to reduce risk of spreading the allergen around the room? They should be. Have a conversation with them and find out what the school is willing to do. In the meantime, send your daughter with her own snack.

I had to pull my daughter out of one preschool and find another so I know this is a difficult thing. Best of luck to you and let us know what happens! Jenny

Patty said...

In my son's K classroom, each parent sends their child's own snack, not a snack for the whole class, thankfully. My son's teacher is very supportive and attuned to food allergies, so she is striving to make the classroom nut free. Her plan was to send parents a list of snacks that would not be allowed in the classroom. She started with a list of foods that are not safe for those with peanut/tree nut allergies, listed by brand, etc. The list got to be quite long, obviously. She and I brainstormed together and changed the list to one that includes only foods that were "approved" for snacks: fruits, vegetables, or yogurt. Birthday treats are another story. I put together a list of non-food birthday treats that children could bring, (stickers, pencils, favorite book to donate to the classroom, etc)--but parents seem to be pretty into those birthday cupcakes...

Anonymous said...

I am having some issues with my daughter's preschool and their snack policies. I am actually close to taking her out and trying to find somewhere else because I feel like I am not getting anywhere. Wanted to see if anyone has any advice/suggestions before I take it there. Snack is part of the day parents send snack for the whole class. Each month a calendar is sent out assigning each parent to one day. The school did send a letter to parents about healthy snacks and a letter to her class alerting parents that there is a student with allergies it had a suggested list of things that are safe and a list of things to avoid however we have had several instances where parents send other things and my daughter is not able to have them and is left out. She is only 3 so it's hard to have kids eating cake, cupcakes, etc and she gets something much less desirable like crackers! Then the final instance the teacher made her sit at a separate table by herself while the other kids at cake and she had saltines! I have met with teachers and the directer and I feel like her teacher just doesn't get it and doesn't want to change her views she just isn't seeming very understanding or accomodating at all! She even went as far as to say that she thinks it's good for her to learn that she can't always get what she wants. Then in another email after this last issue she said "why should the other students have to sacrifice what they want to eat for snack or having a special birthday snack just because of one student. One student should not decide decisions for the majority of the class." Really!!! OMG! That just sent me over the edge! I am pretty upset at this point and don't know if there is anything I can do other than take her somewhere else.