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Managing Food Allergies at School


Food allergies increased in children by a whopping 50 percent from 1997 to 2011, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including one in every 13 children. On average, that’s two children per classroom who suffer from food allergies, based on information from Food and Allergy Research Education (FARE).

For parents of children with food allergies, the school cafeteria can be a scary place. Foods that could potentially harm or even kill allergic children could be present and in close proximity. Children are notorious for sharing treats and trading lunches, even when the school recommends they not.

Fortunately, many resources are available to schools for keeping kids with food allergies safe in the lunchroom. FARE recommends that every child with a food allergy have a Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Care Plan on file. The physician-signed plan outlines recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction and includes emergency contact numbers.

In 2013, President Obama signed a bill aimed at increasing the availability of epinephrine – a medication that reverses the effect of allergies – in schools. As of July 2016, eleven states require schools to stock epinephrine. Hawaii has pending legislation and the remaining states have laws or guidelines allowing schools to stock epinephrine.

The CDC provides a free tool kit for managing food allergies at school, with tip sheets for teachers, transportation staff, school nurses and more.

How does your school manage food allergies?