Parents speak out about how schools should manage nut allergies

Children who are allergic to peanuts and tree nuts can face life-threatening reactions if they are not careful about the foods they eat. At home, parents of these children can monitor all of the ingredients used for cooking and make sure their child isn’t exposed to something harmful. But at school, children may encounter foods they’re allergic to in classroom treats or in other children’s lunches.

In the interest of keeping all children safe, many schools have adopted policies to manage food allergies at school. Some schools have all children with nut allergies eat together in a “nut-free zone” – a separate table or separate location where no nuts are allowed. Other schools ban nuts outright – saying no children can bring nuts in their lunches or in any classroom treats.

But what do parents think about school policies like these? To find out, we asked parents of children with and without nut allergies how they think schools should manage lunchtime for kids with nut allergies. Parents of nut-allergic children vary in their views, but 47% of these parents say their nut-allergic child should eat in the lunchroom with no restrictions on what other children eat. However, 58% of the parents of kids without nut allergies say nut-allergic children should eat lunch in a designated area, such as a nut-free table. Read the full report: Nut-free lunch? Parents speak out.

Infographic: Parent views on how elementary schools should handle lunchtime for children with nut allergies
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These results may be surprising in that the majority of parents of nut-allergic children do not support a total ban on nut-containing products. But there is strong support for strategies that keep nut-allergic children safe while still allowing them to interact with their classmates.

In this video, NPCH Associate Director Sarah Clark, MPH discusses these results:

What do you think?:

How do you think schools should manage nut allergies? Share your thoughts and experience in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!