With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

12 September 2011

Free and Reduced Lunch at School - Food Allergy Friendly?

I have two children in elementary school--one of whom has life threatening allergies to peanuts and nuts--and they do not buy school lunches. The school does not prepare food containing peanuts or peanut butter anymore, but the cafeteria sells Smuckers Uncrustables peanut butter and jelly.  Sometimes as a "treat", my older son--who has no food allergies--may buy lunch at school, but the younger, food allergic child never does. Bringing a bag lunch with food that we routinely use and know to be safe is just such a simple way to avoid cross-contamination and other risks.

Families and individuals with food allergies know there is an extra cost to purchasing food allergy friendly or "safe" foods. We're limited to certain brands, sometimes made by specialty companies or in allergen-free facilities, and the prices of those foods are simply higher than other foods. Families who receive Food Stamps/SNAP, however, are eligible to buy free and reduced lunch, which can amount to significant savings for a family food budget. I am curious to know how much of the food at our school really would be suitable and "safe" for my peanut and nut-allergic son. Have you investigated the school lunch options at your school? How food allergy friendly are the lunches at your child's school? If your food allergic child were eligible for free or reduced lunches at school, would he or she be able to eat it, from a food allergy standpoint? Or do free and reduced lunches not really work for food allergic kids?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I know if you provide a doctor's note to your school they DO have to provide an allergy free lunch for your child; it is required by law. Also, for the higher food costs, I know organic/ specialty stores can be exceptionally expensive. However, The Nugget/ Whole foods prides themselves on their low prices. If it is still difficult to shop try the iPhone Food Tester application. It will probably help you with your shopping problems.

I hope this helps, back to school is always challenging with food allergies.
-Kind wishes

Anonymous said...

I worked closely with cafeteria staff for a student that I had several years ago with multiple food allergies who happened to participate in the free lunch program. Yes, they provided the foods that he needed. They did their best to make sure the menu was as similar to the peers as possible. They went as far to ask the family the exact names/brands of products and purchased those items. The food came directly from the school district so I know it was not unique to our school.
That said.....I am thankful to be able to purchase food for my own children who have multiple food allergies. Too many experiences at the day care, which provides meals and "will accommodate our needs", not realizing foods contained the allergen.

Kira Morehouse said...

We appreciated reading this post and felt inspired to write our own thoughts on the topic...How many of us who are living with food allergies have wished for empathy and understanding from others - particularly for our school aged children? Please take a moment to visit our blog. We've updated it today with a new post "Peanut allergy precautions in schools: Finding Common Ground". Feedback and comments are welcome. http://www.homefreetreats.com/blog/archives/2011/10/26/peanut-allergy-precautions-in-schools-finding-common-ground/