Oh Nuts. When Your Kiddo Is In A Peanut-Free Classroom

We returned Sunday evening from a weekend away to a mailbox full of STUFF. Mostly junk. Some magazines (whoohoo!). And several letters related to the start of school – including one from The Princess’s teacher.

The letter said that due to several kiddos with peanut allergies that would be in their classroom their room would be a peanut free zone.  Huh.

Immediately, I took to Twitter. Admittedly, we’re kind of a family full of peanut freaks. None of us have food allergies and if we had to give up our peanut butter, surely we’d all have meltdowns of epic proportions. We buy the stuff in bulk at Costco – that’s how much we love it. And EVEN THE DOG is hooked on the PB.

I’m not totally out of the loop – I realize that a growing number of children are being diagnosed with life-threatening nut allergies. I’ve seen the labels on food packages that indicate that a product contains nuts, or wheat, or soy (or dairy or eggs or some such) – or even that the product was processed in a plant that also processes (insert allergen here).

So, when a classroom is a PEANUT FREE ZONE, what does that entail? Are we just limited to not bringing in peanutty snacks (like peanut butter and crackers) – or are those other items off limits too – those things that don’t necessarily contain peanuts but were made in a place that also handles peanuts. And and and… I really just had no clue.

So I asked Twitter what kinds of snacks my kid could take to school. Twitter didn’t disappoint. First of all the reminded me, “UH, duh, Sarah – fruits and vegetables!” (Seriously? HOW COULD I FORGET). String cheese, Goldfish crackers, raisins, yogurt. Whew. So – kind of a lot of options. Here’s a link to a sample list of “safe foods“.

The school says they’ve got a special nut-free zone set up in the cafeteria – so for those of us who need to resort to sending our kiddos with a PB&J sometimes – we can still do that (again…whew). But they’ll get the kids in practice of frequent handwashing – particularly after lunch, and making sure the kids wipe their mouths before returning to the classroom.

When I met with The Princess’s teacher today, he had done a lot of legwork to make sure that parents of children who aren’t allergic have everything spelled out for us. I couldn’t ask for more, really – this is my first experience with having to really pay attention to such a degree, that to have things spelled out (specifically, a list of foods that are okay to bring) makes it seem less like a hassle, and more like, “OH. This should barely affect us at all.”

Perhaps the biggest bummer comes on The Princess’s birthday. No homemade treats whatsoever. I am a baking mom – and love brainstorming cupcake ideas with my daughter, love executing a cute idea, and I love her getting to show off and bringing in a fabulous end result to share with her classmates.

No go. Not this year.

I mentioned this to a friend whose daughter has many food allergies. She said to me, “But think of how those children feel to not be able to get that special treat!”

I hadn’t planned on leaving them out – I thought I could figure out something entirely allergen free to bring in – but the risk lies in cross-contamination (which sounds gross, doesn’t it? Sounds messy and dirty). We can’t risk maybe a remnant of peanut butter on a utensil used to scoop cupcake batter – and ugh.

So. Birthdays will be a little different this year but we’ll roll with it because really, comparatively? We’ve got the easy job.

Do you have food allergies or children with food allergies? If so, can you tell me what you would like others to know? What are your favorite peanut free/allergy-safe snacks?

Image source, Flickr

About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.

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