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How Do You Make Lunches Safe for Kids With Allergies?

With an increase in kids with allergies, schools are adapting by having special rules such as peanut-free cafeterias. If your child has allergies or goes to a school with special rules, packing a lunch can be difficult.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4-6 percent of children in the U.S. under 18 have food allergies, and that number is rising.

School can be a particularly dangerous place for these kids. The CDC says that 16-18 percent of them have had an allergic reaction at school due to accidentally ingesting a food allergen.

Odds are that if your child isn’t one of those with a serious allergy, he or she goes to school with someone who is. Because schools are required by federal law to make adjustments for any student with a life-threatening allergy, this may mean nut-free tables in the lunchroom, or even an entirely nut-free school.

If you’re in either of those categories, how do you pack a healthy, allergen-free lunch for your student? Patch has rounded up some ideas, and we’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom blog has some great sounding recipes that she uses with her kids, including vegan pumpkin dip and homemade beef jerky, that would qualify as dairy- and nut-free, too.

She advises to, “allow your children to have a say in what goes into their lunchbox (from a mom-approved list of healthy options of course).  Not only will your kids be more likely to eat it, but if you do it right, you can get them eating all sorts of healthy goodness.”

There are lots of sites that focus on peanut-free healthy lunches, such as Livestrong, which suggests making sandwiches with sunflower seed butter, or packing yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola or humus wraps.

Conrad September 06, 2012 at 04:55 AM
NSSED is a special education co-op. Food allergies don't come under special education.
David Greenberg September 06, 2012 at 05:07 AM
I understand what special education is and what it's for. But when you get right down to it, NSSED runs facilities for students with special needs that can't be accommodated elsewhere. And I'd argue that a student who has a life-threatening allergy that can be triggered by a mere speck of an allergen has special needs. It's certainly something for thought and consideration.
Sully September 06, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Special education is meant for kids who for whatever reason cannot learn in the regular education setting, and require special classes to allow them an appropriate education. Food allergies do not cause learning problems. What you are proposing is that kids be separated from their peers all day because of what they can't eat. That sounds like discrimination.
Resident September 06, 2012 at 12:57 PM
How can you expect to guarantee a school is peanut free? Visiting sports teams, maintenance workers and hundreds of visitors enter each day. It is not practical. How do we handle the child allergic to bee stings? Should we ban recess for everybody?
David Greenberg September 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM
"Special education is meant for kids who for whatever reason cannot learn in the regular education setting, and require special classes to allow them an appropriate education. Food allergies do not cause learning problems. What you are proposing is that kids be separated from their peers all day because of what they can't eat. That sounds like discrimination." Sully, I'd never discriminate against anyone. SOME food allergies DO cause learning problems. And I'm not proposing that kids be separated from their peers because of what they can't eat, but rather because they have special environmental needs that can't be guaranteed and met by the regular environment. As we've discussed above, kids are slobs - things can happen outside the regular campus environment that can adversely affect a sensitive individual, and to meet the needs of the sensitive individuals in the regular environment approaches the absurd. So we need a special environment so they can learn and be safe. That's ALL I'm saying.

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