Food bans and peanut-free zones: Managing food allergies at school

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October 5, 2012

About 4-6% of children in the U.S. are affected by food allergies – and sometimes these food allergies are life-threatening. As a result, many schools and day cares have made special accommodations to keep kids with food allergies safe. These accommodations include bans on foods children may bring from home and “peanut-free zones” in lunchrooms and classrooms to create a safe environment for severely allergic children.

In a 2009 NPCH Report, we asked parents with children 0-13 years old about food allergies and what their children’s schools or day cares do to accommodate food-allergic kids.

In this Poll, about a quarter of parents were aware of a child with a life-threatening food allergy in their children’s school or day care. About three-quarters of these parents reported that their child’s school or day care provides accommodations for kids with food allergies, such as bans on treats brought from home and separate eating areas for food-allergic kids.

But how do parents without food-allergic kids feel about having to make these accommodations? While nearly half of parents whose children do not have food allergies report no inconvenience about accommodating the needs of food-allergic children, there are still many parents who do find it inconvenient:

  • 47% of parents said it is not at all inconvenient.
  • 27% of parents said it is somewhat inconvenient.
  • 5% of parents said it is very inconvenient.

Since food allergies have been affecting more and more children in recent years, the results of this NPCH Report show a need for greater advocacy efforts and education targeted at parents of children without food allergies. It is also important for schools to bring parents of all children – those with food allergies and those without – together into the conversation about food allergies so all children can learn in a safe environment.


Submitted by BookMama on

My allergy-free daughter attends a school that is completely peanut/nut free. As in, parents are required to avoid even items that have been packaged on the same line as peanut products. In addition, no gelatin products are allowed in her classroom due to an allergy. It's inconvenient, of course, but I don't mind at all. I can handle checking labels and changing my shopping habits somewhat if the alternative is potentially (accidentally) causing a severe or potentially deadly reaction in a child who is allergic.

A nice benefit for us is that our whole family is actually eating healthier! I am avoiding most packaged foods for lunches and am instead packing lots of fresh fuits and vegetables. 

Submitted by annadk on

Thanks for your comment! You make a great point about the benefits of avoiding certain food products due to allergies of other students your daughter goes to school with. Thanks for reading!

Submitted by MomofThree on

My oldest is in first grade and has several children in his class with nut allergies.  Because of this, the school sent home an approved snack list that we have been following.  Half way through the school year, my youngest child was thought to have an egg allergy and sent to the allergist.  Imagine my surprise when the allergist found he was allergic to nuts!  Luckily, I did not have to throw much food out because we were already purchasing nut free approved snacks.  We now will be nut free at school and at home.  I think our transitiion to nut free would have been much harder if we weren't already aware of what to look for on ingredient labels.




Submitted by Jack on

I have a son and daughter that both have severe food allergies.  I have noticed that in the last few years most schools and resturants have gotten better about the "food allergy" thing, and are actually cooking things different or in vergetable oil instead of peanut oil.  This has changed the way we eat out compared to how it used to be.  the problem is so bad tht if either one of them injest any kind of nut they are straight to the hospital, which could be lif threatning if not treated right away.

Thank God my niece isn't allergic to peanuts. It would have been a pain in the neck. coz she loves peanuts so much!

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