Frequently Asked Allergy Questions
Q: Are there many students in our district with life-threatening food allergies?
A: There is an increasing number of students across the nation and in our district with food allergies, including life-threatening allergies.
Q: Why do student’s snacks and food for classroom parties have to be packaged and labeled?
A: It is critical for teachers, nurses and principals to be able to quickly determine if a snack can be safely eaten in any given classroom. The most reliable and efficient method to determine the ingredients is by reading a complete ingredient label.
Many of our classrooms are “allergen aware” zones and require safe snacks be eaten to protect students. If the classroom is “allergen aware,” students will be asked to not bring snack items that might put other students at risk.
Q: My child doesn’t have an allergy. Why is her personal snack required to have an ingredient label if no one else will be eating it?
A: Any food brought into the classroom is a concern since even small amounts of food and their residues can create safety issues for students with food allergies. In addition, certain areas of a school building may need to be deemed “allergen aware” and the food entering those areas will be regulated and potentially restricted. Ingredient labels are the only reliable means for staff to determine what is in a food item.
There are no restrictions regarding food brought from home that will be eaten in the cafeteria during scheduled lunch. Students may bring any foods they wish into the cafeteria to eat during lunchtime.
Q: Are there any exceptions to the labeled snack rules, such as fruits or vegetables?
A: Generally speaking, yes. If there are no students in the classroom who have a life-threatening allergy to a particular fruit or vegetable, those items may be sent as a snack or treat. Your classroom teacher will inform you if there are any restrictions regarding fruits and vegetables.
Q: What do I tell my child if he/she is upset about not being able to bring his/her favorite snack?
A: It may be helpful to reassure your child the favorite food can be eaten at lunchtime. You might also show how the foods he has eaten at the dinner table have spilled over onto the table or are visible on his hands and milk glass, and talk about how when food gets into the classroom by accident, it could be a problem for someone who has food allergies.
Q: Why are snack foods from home more restricted than lunch foods from home?
A: The cafeteria and the classroom are two different environments with different purposes. The cafeteria is designed for food consumption and does not pose the same limitations as the classroom environment.
- Cleaning procedures in the cafeteria follow specific guidelines for health and safety.
- Classrooms are set up for learning and are filled with a variety of teaching materials.
- Sinks are not available in all classrooms, making hand-washing and cleaning options less accessible.
- Classroom activities involve students working in groups with shared workspaces, tools, and materials. Therefore, foods brought into the classroom can be easily spread to surfaces, materials, and equipment, posing a risk for students with food allergies.
Therefore, foods brought into the classroom are more regulated and require a package ingredient label. If your student desires a special food from home that does not have an ingredient label, they may eat it, along with any other foods, during lunchtime. Only foods brought into the classroom environment are required to have ingredient labels and are subject to restrictions.
Q: What can I safely send for birthday treats?
A: Due to allergy restrictions, state law, and Board of Education Policy ADF, there are significant restrictions on the foods and beverages that can be provided or sold to students (including celebrations, classroom parties and rewards) on district campuses during school hours. (School hours are defined as being between midnight the night before a school day until a half-hour after school ends.)
These restrictions apply to all food and beverages supplied by individuals and organizations. The only exceptions are: food or beverages brought from home by students for consumption solely by the student; food or beverages created or used as part of the district’s instructional programs.
Here are the district’s Healthy Snack Guidelines which provide information about the USDA nutritional standards for food that can be served in schools during the school day, as well as a list of approved snacks.
In addition to these standards, additional restrictions are in place to address food allergy restrictions for individual classrooms and/or school buildings. Parents should look to their child’s principal and classroom teachers for additional guidance on what foods are appropriate for sharing with their child’s classmates.
The district has made arrangements with Chartwells, the district’s food service provider, to offer parents food-safe options for birthday treats or other events. Chartwells can create treats that are allergen-free and will work with the schools and parents to custom design birthday treats that can be safe for all students in a particular classroom. Order forms are available through your child’s school or by visiting the Food Services section of this website. You may call Sue Blumm, Food Service Director, at 314-983-5443 for additional information and arrangements.
An alternative is to provide activities or “treats” that do not include food. For example, younger students may enjoy a parent reading a favorite story to the class (and donating the book to the library in their honor) or bringing in a special “show and tell” item to share with the classroom. Your child’s principal or teacher will be able to provide you with guidance on alternative ideas to celebrate your child’s birthday without the use of food.
Q: How does the food allergy policy affect fundraising activities involving food products?
A: Any organization or group running fundraising activities through the school may sell food products as long as the food is delivered and consumed after school hours. Food products should be distributed after school hours and not opened in the building. Food sold during the school day for consumption on school grounds must be labeled and packaged, and should not contain peanut and tree-nut products.
Q: Can food be made available at dances, sporting events, concerts, etc. on school grounds?
A: Yes, by following the district’s policies, organizations may still serve food at school-sponsored events. Food may be ordered from Chartwells or from a food service provider that can provide ingredient lists to demonstrate that tree nuts or peanuts are not in the food and that cross-contamination has not occurred in food preparation.
Q: What about parent associations? Are they required to follow the policy?
A: Yes. The parent associations hold events both on and off school grounds. If they are serving food on school property, they are required to follow the district’s guidelines and policies. If the event is outside of the school buildings, the organizations are encouraged to plan events where all students, including those with food allergies, can safely attend. Questions regarding off-site events should be directed to the appropriate parent association. If the parent association cannot address your concerns, please bring them to your building principal.
Q: Why did the Ladue School District adopt an allergy policy?
A: School districts have an obligation to ensure students who have special needs are safe and have the same access to education and related activities as other students.
In addition, Missouri statute 167.208 required every school district in Missouri to adopt a policy on allergy prevention and response by July 1, 2011. The statute mandates that school districts address specific safeguards regarding their students with life-threatening food allergies.
Q: How was the Ladue School District’s policy developed?
A: Policy JHCF reflects many practices already in place in our schools. Examples include: providing allergy-aware tables at lunch, and requiring packaged and labeled snacks in classrooms where students may be at risk for a life-threatening food allergy. Having a districtwide policy provides consistency in practice across school buildings, and addresses the need for staff to readily implement these practices with the least amount of disruption. Staff and several parent groups provided input, and many different points of view were considered in developing the policy. The district’s policy reflects a balance that is the least restrictive for all students, ensures the safety and inclusion for students with allergies, and can be implemented by staff with the least amount of disruption to the school routine. Additionally, the policy reflects the recommendations from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri School Boards Association, and the Department of Health and Senior Services at Food Allergy Information. The Ladue Schools Board of Education policy was last revised in 2013.
Q: My child has a food allergy and the precautions specified in the policy are unnecessary for him/her. How can I obtain an exemption to this policy?
A: Not all food allergies are the same. If your child has a food allergy, it is important that you include information about it on your child’s annual infinite campus health update as part of the online registration process. The school nurse will work with you and your child’s physician to create the appropriate health and safety provisions to meet your child’s specific needs while at school.
All students, staff and parents are expected to abide by all school board policies. Unless your child has an IEP or 504 Plan in which individual accommodations have been specified, there is no process by which one may become exempt from a school district policy.
If you have concerns regarding your child’s food and nutrition needs as it pertains to this Ladue School District policy, please contact Director of Student Services Dr. Derrick Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-994-7080.