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Tips for sending your food-allergic child to school

Food allergies are no laughing matter and it doesn't take long for them to become dangerous. 

As a parent, it is your job to worry about your child but worrying won’t protect him or her. When you send your child to school, you are giving up control and placing their care in the hands of their teachers and administrators. If your child suffers from a food allergy, going to school could put them at risk for accidental exposure to their allergen.

Here are some tips that will help you alleviate the stress of sending your food-allergic child to school.

Communicate with the school

  • Start early, if possible, in the spring before the next school year.
  • Find out if your school or school district has a school nurse.
  • Write to the principal and school nurse. Tell them about your child’s food allergies and specific needs.
  • Request a meeting with key people to start the planning process.
  • Ask if the school/school district has any food allergy management policies in place.
  • Inquireabout staff training.
  • Get copies of the forms you will need to have filled out before school starts:

✓Medication Authorization forms – These forms state if your child can self-carry and/or self-administer medicines at school. These forms are required even if the medicine will be stored and administered by school staff.

 ✓Special Dietary Meals Accommodation form – You will need this form if your child will be eating meals provided by the school.

 ✓Emergency Action Plan (EAP) form – This form tells caregivers what to do in case of an allergic emergency.

  • Work with the school to create a comprehensive Food Allergy Management and Prevention Plan. This is typically either an Individualized Health Plan (IHP) or a 504 plan.

Visit your child’s doctor before school starts to get the following

  • Required prescriptions for emergency medicines (epinephrine auto-injectors).
  • Doctor signatures on all three of the forms:

✓Medication Authorization

 ✓Special Dietary Needs Accommodation

 ✓Emergency Action Plan

Meet with the school nurse or school representative before school starts to find out

  • When is the school nurse at your child’s school? (Full-time, part-time, available by phone, etc.)
  • If the nurse is not at your school, who takes care of students during the school day if they are sick? How does the health room operate during a typical school day?
  • Where will your child’s emergency medicines be kept unlocked during the school day?
  • What experience has the school had with food-related emergencies?
  • What are the procedures for shelter-in-place and evacuations? How are food and medicines handled during emergencies?
  • How are food allergies managed on school buses and during after-school activities?
  • How does the school deal with bullying about food allergies? Is there a zero-tolerance policy? Does the school educate students about food allergies?
  • Does the school nurse train school staff on managing food allergies? Who and when?

Make an appointment to meet the teacher to discuss classroom management of food allergies

  • Allergen control strategies in the classroom and during “specials” such as music or art 
  • Ingredient label reading
  • Safe snacks (encourage fresh fruits and vegetables)
  • Classroom celebrations (encourage non-food items)
  • “No food sharing” rules
  • Field trips (Who carries medicine? Can parents attend? etc.)
  • Cleanup after eating or anytime food is brought into the classroom
  • Food in classroom activities (encourage non-food curriculum)
  • Hand-washing practices before and after eating, or use of hand wipes (not hand sanitizer)
  • Alerting substitute teachers about children with food allergies

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Teach and encourage your child to build age-appropriate skills to manage food allergies

  • Reading food labels, avoiding foods without labels, not sharing food
  • Hand-washing or hand wipes (no use of hand sanitizer)
  • Self-carrying and how to use an epinephrine auto-injector (discuss readiness to self-carry with your child’s doctor)
  • Knowing what their body might do if they were to have a reaction
  • Telling an adult if they start to have an allergic reaction at school
  • Reporting any bullying or harassment by staff or students
  • Sitting with their classmates in the cafeteria
  • Riding the bus and/or going on field trips

Periodically check in with your child to ask how they feel at school.

And if your need more helps with your child's allergies, Food allergy concierge is available 24/7 to help you.

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Meticulous in their preparations

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.

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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!!)

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Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel.  We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!

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The Allergy Card was Extremely Helpful

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Allergy Free baked goods for the lockdown

My family ordered a week's worth of food from Food Allergy Concierge during the most recent lockdown. Having the food on hand, and knowing that it was safe for everyone in the family to eat, helped turn the lockdown into a stay-cation! We were still able to take a break from cooking and worrying, and we look forward to using FAC's services again in the future.

Very easy to order and communicate your needs

We are so lucky we found this company to help us while our son was traveling. They provided allergy-safe baked goods and delivered them to his hotel so he could have bread and pastries on his month-long Israel trip. It was very easy ordering and communicating his needs. I would definitely use the food allergy concierge again the next time he travels to Israel.

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