Deadly Reaction: Schools dealing with increase in food allergies
Wed, 16 Nov 2011 15:40:37 GMT —
Food allergies are on the rise, affecting at least one in every 20 children.
Meanwhile the impact of the uptick is being felt in area schools. We checked in with one Quincy school to see what they're is doing to protect kids with potentially deadly allergies.
Julie Stratman is the principal of Monroe School in Quincy.
Stratman said, "The severity has hit us."
She says when she took the post five years ago - there was one student with a food allergy. Now there's 15. Increases like this all over the district prompted the Quincy public school district to formulate a policy for dealing with food allergies. As part of that plan, school officials work with parents, nurses, and cafeteria workers to create a safety plan and they stick to it.
Signs warn visitors of the allergies in entrances to the building and classrooms ... and kids are also required to wash their hands with soap and water to avoid cross contamination.
Food free zones are in place to provide safe places for kids to go if there is ever a threat.
Stratman said, "You have to take it all extremely seriously and if you don't ... someone could die."
Peanut allergies are so serious cooks here only serve lunches that are peanut free and all ingredients are researched to make sure they meet guidelines.
But realistically Stratman says she can't completely keep allergens like peanuts completely out of the school.
From bagged munchies from home to diabetic children who depend on peanut butter sandwiches to keep their insulin levels steady, peanuts will find their way in. But in the cafeteria environment, teachers are careful to separate them to keep everyone safe.
At Monroe School, Stratman says treats are corralled by the school nurse and inspected for allergens before they ever get to classrooms. And if they have peanuts they're thrown out.
She says no one is exempt from following the rules - because kids lives hang in the balance.
Stratman said, "Please give non-food treats. If you do want to bring a treat make sure nothing is in it. Our nurse will check it. We have to keep everybody safe."