Dear parents, what to do if your kid’s classmate has a nut allergy…

Credit: Thinkstock

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Back to school brings so much excitement and for some families a lot of anxiety, especially for those dealing with food allergies.  As parents you may soon open your child’s backpack to find a note from your child’s school stating that a classmate has a life-threatening allergy.

Food allergies can bring mixed reactions from classmates and as a mom of a child with a former food allergy I hope to help guide parents on what to do.

Food allergies and school

Credit: thinkstock

My son just started kindergarten at a public school and I opened his backpack to find a note from the principal stating that a child in his classroom has a severe peanut and treenut allergy. The letter explained that we needed to be very cautious and read labels on the foods we’re sending to the classroom for snack and lunch.

Related: Allergy testing: a mom’s fear of the unknown

My immediate reaction was sympathy.  I felt for the mom and dad who were likely terrified to send their child to school for the first time and hoping that the teacher will keep their baby safe.  As you can imagine, 5 year-olds can barely write their own names let alone read food labels.  I felt bad for the student who doesn’t want to be treated differently.  I know because we’ve been there.  It’s not fun.  It’s scary and it’s real.

Related: Allergy testing: beating the odds

Let me tell you what’s worse.  The thought that another parent may read the principal’s letter and simply not care or get “mad” that your allergic child is interfering with their non-allergic child’s routine. My husband is a teacher and he has literally still had parents send their kids with Reeses Peanut Butter Cups after finding out a classmate is allergic.  It may sound hard to believe but there are some people who don’t understand food allergies simply don’t care to understand.  It’s very frustrating and disheartening as a parent who is simply trying to keep their kid safe, healthy and breathing.  I’ve literally watched my own son turn blue on the way to the hospital so I understand.

“It’s very frustrating and disheartening for parents who are simply trying to keep their kid safe, healthy and breathing.  I’ve literally watched my own son turn blue on the way to the hospital so I understand.”

So if you get that letter home this school year, and chances are you will because according to F.A.R.E. 1 in 13 children have a food allergy.  Why?  There still isn’t a great answer.  What that does mean is that 1-2 children in every classroom could be affected.  If your child is lucky enough to avoid this life-changing condition then I encourage you to take the time to understand other families needs and circumstances and use this opportunity to teach your child about understanding the needs of others.

To help make it easy I’ve put together some quick resources to help.

HOW TO READ A LABEL: What do I look for to make sure a snack is safe?

I’ve taken pictures of two items so you can see where the allergens are listed on the back.  Simply look at the nutrition label and look for statements that says, “May contain….” “Contains….” etc.

Credit: Carly Munoz

**MORE RESOURCES ON HOW TO READ A LABEL**

PEANUT/TREE NUT FREE SNACK IDEAS:

**PLEASE NOTE: allergy labeling and product manufacturing changes ALL of the time. Items listed below are from the Snack Safely list which is relevant for the following dates:

This copy was downloaded: August 23, 2017
Do not use this copy after: September 6, 2017
After this date, download an updated copy from: snacksafely.com/download

-Baked Ruffles – Original, Cheddar & Sour Cream

-Pringles – Original, Reduced Fat, BBQ

-Lay’s – Classic, Barbecue, Sour Cream & Onion, Lightly Salted, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Wavy Original, Salt & Vinegar,
Garden Tomato & Basil, Honey Mustard, Honey Barbecue

-Munchos

-SkinnyPop Popcorn [K,GF,NG] – Dusted Dark Chocolate, Jalapeno, Naturally Sweet, Original, Sea Salt & Black Pepper,
White Cheddar

-Smartfood – White Cheddar, Reduced Fat, Movie Theater Butter

-Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks – Caramel Corn, Ranch, Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper, Kettle Corn, Chocolate, Sweet
Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream & Onion

-Kraft Handi-Snacks Mister Salty Pretzels ‘n Cheese Dip

-Newman’s Own – Salted Sticks, Salted Pretzel Rounds, Unsalted Pretzel Rounds, Spelt Pretzels

-Nabisco 100 Calorie Mister Salty Pretzels – Milk Chocolate, Yogurt Flavored

-Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Pretzels

-Pepperidge Farm 100 Calorie Pouches Goldfish Pretzels

-Rold Gold – Thins, Sticks, Rods, Tiny Twists, Lightly Salted Tiny Twists, Tiny Twists Cheddar, Tiny Twists Honey
Mustard, Sourdough, Honey Wheat, Cheesy Garlic

-Cheetos – Puffs, Puffs Honey BBQ, Crunchy, Flamin’ Hot Crunchy, Baked

-Pirate’s Booty – Aged White Cheddar, Sour Cream & Onion, New York Pizza

-Nabisco Grahams – Original

-Nabisco Honey Maid – Honey, Low Fat Honey, Cinnamon, Low Fat Cinnamon, Chocolate, Fresh Stacks

-Teddy Grahams – Cinnamon, Honey, Chocolate, Chocolatey Chip, Mini

-Cheese Nips – Cheddar, Reduced Fat Cheddar, SpongeBob Square Pants

-Goldfish – Baby Cheddar, Cheddar, Colors, Mix-Up, Parmesan, Pizza, Pretzel, Saltine, Whole Grain

-Goldfish Flavor Blasted – XPlosive Pizza, Xtra Cheddar, Slammin’ Sour Cream & Onion

-Goldfish Mix-Up Adventures – Pretzel & Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar, Xtra Cheesy Pizza

-Goldfish 100 Calorie Pouches – Cheddar, Pretzel

-Barnum’s Animal Crackers – Original

-Chips Ahoy – Chocolate Chip, Reduced Fat, Candy Blasts, Chunky, Chewy, White Fudge Chunky, Mini

-Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs – Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps, Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookie Crisps

-Nabisco Biscos Sugar Wafers – Creme Filling

-Newtons – Original Fig, Fat Free, Whole Grain, Strawberry, Raspberry

-Newtons Minis – Whole Grain Fig

N-ewtons Fruit Crisps – Apple Cinnamon

-Oreos – Original, Double Stuf

Related: 10 allergen friendly birthday treat ideas perfect for school parties