The challenge of keeping children with food allergies safe in school is more formidable as great numbers of them are at risk every year. As you join in the battle to reduce the deadly risks of food allergies, rest assured that SNA and the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) are fighting alongside you and continue to investigate ways to improve safety. To help you and your school nutrition staff effectively manage food allergies in your school district, you should familiarize yourself with the following key areas and accompanying resources:
- Food Allergy Rights, Responsibilities, Policy and Action Plans
- Cross Contact and the Hidden Food Allergens
- Label Reading for Successful Management of Food Allergies
- Food Safety and the Management of Food Allergens
- Additional Training for School Nutrition Professionals, Students and Parents
Food Allergy Rights, Responsibilities, Policy and Action Plans
The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) "School Guidelines for Managing Students with Food Allergies" online resource provides important information on the role of families, schools and students in minimizing risks and providing a safe educational environment for students with food allergies.
FARE's "Food Allergy Action & Emergency Care Plan" form can be completed to detail a student's food allergy and medications, as documented by their personal physician to communicate with school medical professionals.
AllergicChild.com is the creation of Nicole Smith, the mother of a severely food allergic child, which provides information on a variety of food allergy issues. On the site's "Food Allergic Children and Schools" page, Smith details some of the big issues and solutions she found for keeping her son safe at school. The page also includes a link to a video clip of Smith speaking on the topic of food allergies in schools.
This comprehensive resource from the New Hampshire Department of Education provides several downloadable documents regarding special dietary needs and child nutrition programs. The resources available include a Special Dietary Needs Prescription Form, Special Dietary Needs Q&A, a Special Dietary Needs Presentation (in PowerPoint) and a complete manual entitled, "Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Program."
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Cross Contact and the Hidden Food Allergens
The "Reading Labels for Food Allergens" fact sheet, available from the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), offers useful tips and a list of foods that may contain hidden allergens.
What exactly is "cross-contact" and how do you avoid it to keep your foods safe? Check out this resource from The Food Allergy Research and Education.
Need additional information on preventing cross-contact? The Consortium of Food Allergy Research offers several examples of cross-contact problems, both in the home and away, and provides the appropriate solution.
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Label Reading for Successful Management of Food Allergies
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays the lead role in the world of proper food labeling. This "Food Allergies: What You Need to Know" resource will help you learn the basics of mandatory food allergen labeling.
The "Get the Facts: New Food Allergen Labeling Laws," available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides information about USDA Foods distributed to through the Food Distribution Programs.
The Food Allergy Research and Education will put the food-allergic person well on their way to safer and more healthful eating after reviewing the "How to Read a Label for a Milk- (Soy-, Peanut-, Wheat-, Egg-, Shellfish- and Tree Nut-) Free Diet" resource.
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Food Safety and the Management of Food Allergens
The National Food Service Management Institute's (NFSMI) guide to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) explains how mandating strict guidelines in food production settings can keep food allergies at bay. Dozens of SOP's are listed in great detail for educational purposes in school foodservice settings.
The Food Allergy Research and Education's "Components of an Effective Allergen Control Plan" provides food processing companies with a framework for an Allergen Control Plan, including an introduction to the issues and considerations which are typically included in such a plan.
The Food Allergy Kitchen website, created by a parent of two children who have multiple food allergies, provides simple and effective methods of food allergy management.
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Additional Training for School Nutrition Professionals, Students and Parents
The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, produced a series of three web-based seminars ("webinars") on understanding and addressing food allergies in schools. An archive of the webinar recording and materials are available.
In addition to the webinar series, SNF partnered with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to develop a podcast series on managing food allergies in schools. The podcasts are divided into four 15-minute segments.
The School Nutrition Team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction offers food allergy materials and resources for accommodating children with food allergies/special dietary needs in the NSLP.
"Food Allergies in Schools," a resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides an overview of food allergies in the school environment.
The "Food Allergy Safety at School," a webinar archive available from the American School Health Association, will help you understand how to prevent food allergy reactions at school, as well as how to respond should a severe reaction occur.
St. Louis Children's Hospital developed the "FAME: Food Allergy Management and Education" manual and toolkit to provide schools with the components of a comprehensive school-based food allergy program.
The Centers for Disease Control worked with the National Association of School Nurses, as well as the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and the National School Boards Association, to develop this comprehensive guidance for food allergy and anaphylaxis management in the school setting.
The "Important Information for Parents/Guardians of Students with Life Threatening Food Allergies" resource from Spokane (Wash.) Public Schools can help you ensure the safest possible environment for your students.
The Learning First Alliance website offers information on what school employees need to know regarding food allergies.
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