About 8% of children in the U.S. have food allergies.1 That equals about two students in each classroom. With those numbers, schools have no choice but to implement food allergy policies.
Grandview Preparatory School in Boca Raton, Florida, has worked hard to create an environment where children with food allergies can feel safe. In fact, many families send their child to this private school because of their commitment food allergy policies.
The school serves students from pre-K through grade 12. According to Jacqueline Westerfield, Head of School, they saw a need in the community for a food allergy friendly school environment and worked to meet it.
“We saw an increase in families applying to a smaller environment to help prevent allergic reactions,” said Jacqueline. “In time, through word of mouth, families sought us out for this reason, and we updated policies to accommodate the need.”
Grandview strives to create a safe space for all of their students. Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, milk and wheat are the most common allergens they see among their students. But some students also have less common food allergies, and the school works to accommodate those too.
“My son’s favorite thing at school and reason for going is lunch with Chef Kevin,” Kara*, mother of a Grandview student, said. “He can eat there! And that is amazing. This chef is an angel on earth. He makes sure my son gets to experience all kinds of food and eat as much as humanly possible, just like his friends – while managing his multiple food allergies in the process. And when my son leaves the lunchroom to go to the playground, he can run around carefree like everyone else.”
According to Jacqueline, here are some examples of a few of Grandview’s allergy policies:
- Contract with a food service provider who is responsive to specific dietary requirements
- Create awareness of the severity of particular allergies and the need to accommodate them in their environment
- Train staff to recognize and respond to allergic reactions
- Prepare “go bags” for potential treatment for students with food allergies
- Require approval for items to be brought on campus
To create an allergy-friendly school environment, the Grandview staff partners with both parents of children with food allergies and those without. Teachers receive annual allergy training. Food service staff also receive separate allergy training. And the school includes food allergy information in their student curriculum.
“We are a small, close-knit community,” Jacqueline stated. “Families are supportive of this process overall, but particularly when they understand the severity and impact. We begin this partnership at the admission stage so that families (with and without allergies) are aware there are restrictions regarding food.”
Grandview’s commitment to creating a safe environment for children with food allergies helps kids focus more on learning. It reduces some of the stress parents face as well.
“Grandview puts my mind and my son’s mind at ease,” said Kara. “He can just focus on being a kid without having to think about his allergy every moment. He is not his food allergies there. He is just a kid – a happy kid that can finally play with friends and not have to back away from contact.”
*Name has been changed for privacy.
1. CDC.gov. (2018). Food Allergies | Healthy Schools | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthysch...dallergies/index.htm [Accessed 30 Sept. 2019].