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Going to School With Food Allergies

New to food allergies?

Sending children with food allergies to school can be a very stressful event for parents. Families educate themselves thoroughly about this medical condition and work hard to make the home safe from allergens and managing different situations in different environments. 

However, when the child goes to school and cannot be under the parents’ watchful eye they can get fearful, especially when dealing with life-threatening reactions. Does my child’s school have a plan for students with allergies? Do they know how to avoid cross-contamination? Will my child feel left out for having to eat differently?

Fortunately, awareness of food allergies has increased substantially in the last decades. Legislation on people with food allergies’ rights has been passed in many countries and schools are much more prepared and educated about avoiding risks and managing emergencies. 

As a parent, there are several steps you should follow in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page when protecting your child’s health and to secure his or her best school experience:

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Know your child’s rights

It’s very important to learn about your country or state’s legislation in relation to managing food allergies in educational institutions. Many count with specific guidelines on how schools must be prepared in relation to anaphylaxis policies and health emergency protocols. For instance, in Canada, life-threatening allergies are considered a disability that must be accommodated in schools.

Work hand-in-hand with the school

As 1 out of 13 children is diagnosed with a food allergy, most schools nowadays already have an allergy action plan. Meet with school staff members, teachers, principals to nurses and cafeteria workers, learn about their policy for students with allergies and inform them about all the necessary information on your child’s allergy. Hand out a written personal plan outlining the accommodations, aids, and services that your child may need.

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Involve your child

Food allergies are something a child may have to face all their life. It’s fundamental to make them aware of their condition and involve them in the care process, or else when they are not under your direct control they will lack the skills and knowledge to manage a risky situation. Teach your child to build age-appropriate skills to identify their allergens and managing an emergency. Your emotional relation to allergies will influence your child, encourage them to be careful and not fearful.

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Find safe snacks

Food is an important part of socialization in our culture. Treats are a common way of encouraging good behavior or celebrating milestones. Providing safe snacks is a resourceful way of preventing your child from feeling left out, you even can provide a treat for the whole class that can be enjoyed by everyone. Go for food allergy-friendly labeled products or make them yourself and label them as a safe food for your child. Take into account that some countries and states have beverage and food policies with specific requirements, such as a limit of fat or sodium for instance. In order to meet the dietary guidelines, go for healthy choices, a variety of nutrients and limit calories especially from saturated fats and sodium.

Here you have some ideas of healthy and safe snacks:

- Fruit puree
- Veggie chips
- Popcorn
- Applesauce
- Rice milk box
- AllergySmart cookies

Join the Allergy Smart Club Newsletter

At Allergy Smart we put a focus on the growing concern of people suffering from food allergens and the lack of a smart solution in the market. Smart to us, means that you can be allergy safe, without sacrificing clean ingredients, experience and taste. Join our newsletter so that we can guide you in navigating your best snack options.