School Bans Packed Lunches Containing Dairy or Eggs

School Lunches
My heart goes out to the community featured in this article at The Record. The piece, titled "Father of Boy with Severe Food Allergies Says He Never Intended to Restrict what Other Children Can Eat", seems to have turned into a huge misunderstanding.

The main characters are a well-meaning dad of a food allergic kindergartener, a seemingly sympathetic, well meaning school board and a bunch of parents caught totally off-guard.

Reportedly, a letter went out a few days before the start of school to all kindergarten parents. It stated that "their children could not bring dairy items or food containing eggs in their lunches because of a kindergarten child who has an anaphylactic reaction to those foods". In addition, these parents were given a list of acceptable items including soy yogurt, vegan margarine, whole grain bread, some lunch meats and brands of cookies. There was also a list of stores where these items could be purchased.

No wonder the dad's upset and feels like this has turned into a spectacle for his child and the other parents are mad. The school board is saying, "no comment".

This is the kind of scenario all food allergy parents fear. Fortunately, it's not typical, and with good communication, can usually be avoided.  We've had a great experience dealing with our school district throughout the years.

My advice is to start the communication the spring before the start of school. Meet with the principal and school nurse and any other school staff that may be helpful. Find out what measures are already in place and how food allergies have been managed in the past. Use this as an information seeking session.  After you've gathered all of the information, determine what your child needs and request a healthcare plan. In the U.S., a 504 Plan makes the most sense. In other countries, including Canada, there are similar plans available under other names. Regardless of the name, you are looking to protect your child in the least restrictive way. The plan needs to clearly state who does what and who is responsible for what. Everyone's rights need to be considered and respected.Try to be open and flexible during the process. Everyone wants what is best for the citizens of the school.

I hope for this little kindergartener's sake, the community mentioned in the article can come together and do what is best for all.
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