Dear Child and Family Center Parents and Teachers,
Many of you have read the headlines and seen the news stories: food allergies are a growing concern across America. Millions of children, children who are perfectly healthy and typical in every other way, must watch every single bite they eat or risk suffering a severe or even life-threatening reaction. In fact, food allergies claim over 200 lives and are responsible for over 30,000 hospital emergency room visits each year. A major health issue such as this one needs to be taken very seriously, and it has always been the policy of this school to make the safety and well-being of our students our top priority.
Several years ago, because of concern for the children in our community who are allergic to peanuts, we banned peanuts and peanut products from the CFC. Every year, the numbers of children with food allergies are growing and we are seeing a reflection of this in the increase of allergic students at the CFC. We cannot promise families their allergic child will not come into accidental contact with these foods while in school. Nut and seed products are not obvious ingredients in foods, and many foods are not clearly labeled. After a great deal of thought and research, we have decided to remain a tree and peanut-restricted environment and have expanded our policy to include additional safeguards.
In addition to the guidelines we already have in place, we would like to ask you to help us implement the following measures for the safety of our students:
- Families of children with nut and/or seed allergies must inform their child's teacher and the director. An Emergency Action Plan must be completed and signed by the child's physician and given to the director before the start of each new year.
- Families (including those whose children are not allergic) must never send in any snacks that contain nuts or seeds of any kind.
- Families must never bring in snacks or foods that contain nuts or seeds, either for themselves or their children. This includes backpacks and pockets.
- Meals for potlucks and food for special occasions must be nut and seed free. I would recommend that you bring a list of the ingredients that can be placed next to your dish for potlucks.
Here are additional measures the center is taking:
- Designated faculty are trained to recognize symptoms of a severe allergic reaction and how to use an EpiPen as per protocol.
- Education of the community regarding food allergies and how to keep children safe will continue throughout the year in classrooms, faculty and staff meetings, and letters home.
I appreciate that I may be asking you to change something that is an everyday part of your child's life, and that those changes are often hard to make and may even be unwelcome. The time spent at the center, however, is only a part of the day and I would like to make it as safe as possible for our allergic students. I am grateful for your kindness and consideration and trust that you understand how very important it is to respect and adhere to these guidelines. If throughout the course of the year you have any questions or concerns about food allergy issues, please do not hesitate to contact either me, Tamara Rowe or Teresa Outlaw-Johnson. You can find information about this at www.faan.org.
Karen J. Booth, MS Ed.