You may not know it, but there are no national guidelines for schools when it comes to managing food allergies — until now, that is. Just yesterday, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a comprehensive report that's the first of its kind in the country. The guidelines are still voluntary for schools, but they're superimportant, given that food allergies affect about 4 to 6 percent of kids in the US, and more than 15 percent of children with food allergies have had reactions at school.
The entire report — called "Voluntary Guidelines For Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs" — is pretty extensive but details how schools can effectively prevent and respond to allergic reactions and emergencies.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Schools should identify all children with food allergies through health condition forms or parent interviews.
- Staff should be able to get to epinephrine autoinjectors quickly and easily.
- Schools should immediately contact emergency medical services in cases of a major reaction.
- Administration should provide general training on food allergies to the entire staff and make sure staff can identify food allergens.
- Children should be supervised closely during mealtimes, and staff should prepare meals separately for children with food allergies.
If you have a tot with food allergies, it's important that you ask your child's school if, or how, it plans to implement the guidelines, so you can rest easy about those little lunches.