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.

11 April 2013

Food Allergies at School: Lunch Monitor Conduct

Here's the situation. Nearly every classroom in the elementary school is peanut/nut free because of the huge number of children with peanut and nut allergies. The school offers peanut/nut free classrooms to the parents of children with peanut and/or nut allergies. This means children's snacks (eaten in the classroom) must not contain peanuts or tree nuts as ingredients. At lunch, there is a peanut-free, nut-free, and sesame-free table where children with food allergies may sit. When tables are cleaned by the custodian, the allergy table is cleaned first, to prevent cross-contamination. The cafeteria does not make anything with peanuts or nuts, but does serve Smuckers Uncrustables for those children who want to purchase a PB &J sandwich at lunch.

There are lunch monitors who circulate around the cafeteria to make sure children are behaving, to open any snacks or containers for children who need help, and generally make sure things are running smoothly. These ladies also keep an eye on the kids during recess. 

Question: is it ok for a lunch monitor to walk around and crack open peanuts and eat them while watching the children eat their lunch in the cafeteria?

I have mixed feelings on this one. What do you think?


Unknown said...

To me, this one is real easy. By eating peanuts while monitoring to make sure children with nut allergies aren't exposed completely undermines the school's efforts to support those kids - while endangering them in a potentially very real way. Moreover, by not just eating but cracking them, they are releasing micro explosions of peanut dust into the air, further multiplying the potential for an airborne allergic reaction. I only discovered my own nut allergy when I found my throat closing while standing next to my sister while she was chopping hazelnuts.

I think it's worth bearing in mind that creating allergen-free zones at school is not just about avoiding anaphylaxis (as if that weren't reason enough!) but about sending a message of inclusion. YOU, however you need to eat, are important enough to US that we are willing to make the minor sacrifice of our day-time Skippy for us to have your company.

Different communities can make different decisions about how far they feel is right to go, and with respect to which allergens. But the grown-ups here have an opportunity to send a powerful message about the importance of community and inclusion -- let alone safety.

And that, in my view, is the very best learning you can gain inside the schoolhouse door.

Unknown said...

I agree with the previous comment. This person is now walking past children with peanut allergies with peanut on her breath and her hands.

Unknown said...

I would not be ok with that.

Unknown said...

For real? NO QUESTION AT ALL.. totally unacceptable.. What ever happened to leading by example for our children..