It’s now a few weeks into the new school year- enough time for you to have (hopefully) met with your child’s teacher and explained their needs, written and submitted a Plan 504 to the school and assessed the level of care and accommodation your child has been given for their food allergies. It never ceases to amaze us, but every year parents across the globe tackle with the issue of uncooperative teachers, staff members who either don’t understand or don’t believe in a child’s allergies or simple miss-communications.
Parents are then faced with a NOW WHAT? What, if anything, is there to do when your child’s school or teachers just don’t get it?
Your first point of contact should always be with your child’s main teacher. It never leaves good feelings when a parent goes above them directly the principal before giving them the courtesy to fix the problem. Remember: Your tone is very important- speak in a low calm voice even if you are stressed and boiling inside. Choose a time that works for the teacher to talk, maybe later on at night or before school to give you the greatest chance at success,
The next step is to schedule a meeting with the school’s principal. Ask for the school nurse, social worker and your child’s teacher to be present. Hopefully, just asking for the meeting will be enough motivation to put enough safeguards in place. Having the school nurse present is also important as they can help explain the potential dangers to your child as well as answer any questions a staff member may have.
This step takes your power to the next level. Through contacting them you will be able to find out exactly what the law is regarding your issues especially if the claim has been made to you- and yes this still happens- that food allergies are NOT a disability according to the law. (False!) There have been many other claims reported by parents from their schools and knowing the legalities ensures that you can express your needs while knowing the responsibilities placed on the schools by the law.
It’s never a first or even second step to threaten a lawsuit, but sometimes that’s the only way to get people to listen to you. Sometimes you have to get creative, like physically going down to the school and seeing the layout- maybe you need to speak to the staff at the cafeteria, or the art teacher
If you are having trouble it may be worth your while to make things as easy as possible for the school as you can. Prepare the letter to be sent out to the parents, provide a list of alternative safe snacks and lunch ideas and print off the signs you want to be placed around the school. They might be more willing if they don’t have to work so hard.
Don’t get disheartened if your child’s teacher doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation. It’s your job as a parent to MAKE them ‘get it.’ Society has thankfully come a long way in understanding food allergies and ultimately it’s not coming from a bad place, everyone wants to keep your child and all children safe, sometimes they just need a little nudge to do it.
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.
T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA