Food Allergies and Back to School

In the midst of mid-July’s endless summer days you may be enjoying picnics, barbeques, or late night s’mores around the campfire. But fall and back-to-school season are closer than you think. Before you finish checking off that school supply list there’s something else you should consider as the school year begins.

Food allergies. Yes, food allergies are a small thing that can have big consequences. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), as many as 15 million Americans have a food allergy. The most common include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. If you or a loved one have an allergy you are probably well-versed, but if not, here are some questions to think about.

  • Does your school have any policies on food allergies?
  • Do they provide education on signs and symptoms?
  • If not, have you talked to your child about what to look for in themselves or others?
  • Are there any restrictions on the contents of lunch brought from home?
  • Are homemade foods or treats allowed in school for special occasions?
  • If so, are there any allergy concerns in your child’s classroom?
  • Does your school have epinephrine available if needed to treat a reaction?
  • Where and how is it available?

*Most common symptom reaction is hives. Others include tingling in mouth, swelling of tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, eczema

And these questions are really just the beginning. They’re important for school, but they may also apply at work, in your place of worship, or other community activities and events. If you’d like more detailed information on research, awareness, advocacy, and more, visit the FAAN website at www.foodallergy.org. They also have a special kid’s website at www.faankids.org for your children to explore.

Whether you’re packing your child’s first lunchbox next month or thinking about sharing summertime food with neighbors tomorrow night, hopefully you take a minute to consider food allergies issues. Asking a simple question before offering food and knowing where to get more information on allergies can keep you, family, and friends healthy and safe as you eat and enjoy food.

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