We thank Enjoy Life Foods for their sponsorship of this blog post to help parents manage their child’s food allergies. This is a sponsored post and is not an endorsement of any company or its products, nor is it a guarantee of the products’ safety. The funding we received for this advertisement helps support our free food allergy programs.
Around the U.S., school days are winding down! And for parents of children with food allergies, now is the time to start preparing for the next school year. Here are some things you can do now and throughout the summer.
Things to Do Now Before the End of the School Year
1. Prepare for End-of-School-Year Celebrations
Is your child’s class having an end-of-year party or field day activity? Make sure there is safe food on the menu that your child enjoys. Or plan to send safe food with your child. Make sure school staff and volunteers know how to avoid cross-contact when serving foods.
Check out Kids With Food Allergies’ (KFA) Safe Eats® Allergy-Friendly Recipe Collection and our Allergy-Friendly Foods for some snack and party food ideas. Non-food rewards are also great for reducing the chances of food allergy reactions and making celebrations more inclusive for children with special dietary needs. See our list of non-food reward ideas.
2. Begin the Process of Updating Your Child’s School Health Care Plans
Contact your child’s school office or district office before the last day of school to get copies of any needed school health care plan forms, such as medical authorization forms and emergency action plans (for food allergy or asthma). During the summer, you’ll want to fill out these forms for the fall so the school can have them before the first day of school. This helps make sure teachers and school staff know how to prevent and treat food allergy reactions from the moment your child steps on campus.
Find out what summer hours are for the school and district should you have questions.
If your child needs a 504 plan, start the process now, if you haven’t already.
3. Pick Up Your Child’s Medicines on the Last Day of School
On the last day of school, collect your child’s unused medicine from the school nurse. This includes epinephrine auto-injectors and possibly other medicines, such as asthma inhalers.
If the medicine is not expired, you can send it with your child to their summer child care program or summer camp, if they are attending. Or take it along as extras on vacation.
4. Pick Up Your Safe Snack Stash
If you provided emergency allergy-friendly food (like in case your child forgot lunch) or a safe snack stash, pick that up as well. Check expiration dates and use any leftover snacks for summer treats.
Things to Do Over the Summer to Prepare for the Fall
5. Book an Allergist Appointment for This Summer
Remember those school forms we mentioned above? Your child’s doctor will probably need to sign those forms for the next school year. You may also need new medicine refills. Make sure you have your annual allergist appointment scheduled before next school year begins. Most providers are swamped with school paperwork at the beginning of the school year, so get yours done early to avoid delays.
6. Connect With Your Child’s Teacher, the School Nurse, and Other Key School Staff
Reach out before school starts to set up a meeting with the school nurse or clinical representative to talk about your child’s food allergy management. Once your child has been assigned a teacher, you’ll also want to meet with them too. Consider also talking to the school principal, food services or dietary director, and possibly the athletic director, depending on your child’s needs and planned activities.
7. Practice Age-Appropriate Food Allergy Management Skills During the Summer
The summer is a good time to work with your growing child on their food allergy self-management skills. For example, if they will start self-carrying their medicines, have them carry them during the summer on family outings. If they are learning to self-administer epinephrine, have them practice with the device trainer. Also, talk about topics like reading food labels, proper handwashing, and going to an adult if they have symptoms.
Check Out the Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) School Planning Zone for More Information on Managing Food Allergies at School
What else do you need to do before the school year ends? What should you expect for the fall? We have a variety of school-related resources on our KFA School Planning Zone to help you and your child’s school create a safe environment for your child.