One of the daily challenges that almost every parent who has a child with food allergies deals with is food safety at school. It is a multi-layered issue that includes educating non-food allergy parents, teaching your child to self-advocate, and understanding the school policies and procedures for food allergies. As the problem grows, more and more schools are becoming nut free.
Another challenge can be simply finding snacks that are allergy safe and the kids will want to eat! Whether your own child has nut allergies, or you need nut-free snacks for your non-allergic child to take to school. That is why we decided to do our biggest giveaway ever – 132 bars to one school (a master case, if you were wondering). Our goal was to help promote discussion of allergy safe snacks, provide a conversation starter for allergy parents as they encouraged other parents to nominate their school, and reward a school with some great snacks!
Our Nut Free Allergy Friendly Giveaway Winner
So many people nominated their schools and helped to promote the giveaway. Thank you! We are excited to officially announce the winner – Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD! And, thank you to the teachers at the school for sending these adorable photos — we are so glad the kids loved their nut-free ZEGO snacks.
We were even more excited that the winning school is a peanut and tree nut free school! Partnerships with schools like this can do a lot to help keep kids safe. So we wondered, what was the story behind going nut free?
Paula Sayag, director at the school, says “I have worked here for 9 years, and the school was nut-free when I came. Teachers who have worked here longer don’t even remember when they made that move. It’s been a long time! It was made when allergies seemed to be more common, and there was increased sensitivity to including children with food restrictions.” It is a part of their bigger focus on inclusion of all children. They pride themselves on being inclusive, welcoming children and families from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of unique challenges, including allergies and other food restrictions. Jill, one of the staff at the school said, “We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in our school, so they can make friends, learn, and gain confidence. Every child leaves our school with a “can-do” attitude and enters kindergarten primed for success.”
As stated in their official food policy: “Our policy regarding foods allowed in school is designed for the sole purpose of keeping children safe. Temple Beth Ami has students with food allergies, some of which may be life-threatening. For some children, mere physical contact with an allergen and/or the environmental presence of the allergen can evoke an anaphylactic response. We share a collective responsibility to ensure the safety of every child.”
So why don’t all schools follow a policy like this? Could more schools be nut free? One of the biggest challenges is the education of the other parents, as well as faculty and staff who may not be familiar with food allergies. As we in the allergy community start these conversations, let your school know about other schools that are being successful. Doing this can really help!
Paula said: “The biggest hurdle for schools just starting is helping parents find alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And helping parents appreciate their role in being compassionate to other’s with allergies.” They work through this by providing the school food policy to all parents to help them understand the reasons why this is important, as well as discussing it in parent committee meetings, including it in their newsletters, and sending a mid-year reminder.
While the ZEGO school giveaway was open to any school, we are excited that we had a chance to give it to a school that is doing such a great job of valuing their food allergy kids and families!
Did you miss getting your school nominated? We’ll be doing school giveaways throughout the year. Just enter your email address and we’ll let you know about future giveaways and sales. And, be sure to let us know in the comments section of this blog about how your school handles food allergies!