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Oakwood Schools


Food Allergy Guidelines

Food Allergy Guidelines

A food allergy is defined as, “An adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Voluntary Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools and Early Care and Education Programs. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2013).  There are over 170 foods known to cause food allergies, most common being milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.  Signs and symptoms can occur within a few minutes up to 1-2 hours after the exposure and/or ingestion.

We have many students that have been diagnosed with food allergies.  Accidental ingestion or touching of even a tiny trace of this food can cause an immediate and potentially fatal reaction.  Many foods and snacks can contain these ingredients, which can be passed on by contact with hands, school supplies, toys, etc. if another child brings these foods in to the classroom.

Oakwood City Schools is taking a multidisciplinary approach when addressing food allergies.

Making the cafeteria environment as safe as possible for food allergic students, and identifying steps that can be taken to reduce the chance of accidental exposure, such as:

1.     Food service personnel will read food labels for ingredients and practice safe handling of foods.

2.     Education will be provided to cafeteria staff on food allergy management and be made aware of the students with life threatening food allergies.

3.     Cafeteria staff will have standard procedures for cleaning tables, chairs, and trays after lunch periods to avoid cross contamination.

4.     Make an allergen safe table an available option for allergic students.

5.     Discourage food sharing or trading of food, drinks, straws and utensils.

6.     Encourage hand washing of students before and after eating.

A safe classroom environment is critical to continuous growth & development of a student’s educational experience.  Provisions should be made to develop safeguards for the protection of food allergy students in the classroom, such as:

1.     Teacher will be aware of student’s food allergy and Individualized Emergency Action Plan.

2.     Conduct training for teacher about food allergies, symptoms, and what to do in an emergency.

3.     Send a letter home to parents/guardians of classmates of the food allergy student (without identifying the student) explaining what food allergies are in the class and what foods should be avoided being brought in to the classroom for snack time and classroom celebrations/parties.

4.     Parents of the food allergy student will provide safe snacks for their student for snack time and classroom celebrations/parties to avoid accidental exposure to the food allergen.

5.     Discourage the use of food/food items for classroom projects/activities to avoid the potential exposure to the food allergen.

6.     Notify parents/guardians of classroom celebrations/parties that involve food with particular attention to notification of parents/guardians of food allergy student.

7.     Encourage parents/guardians to provide snacks and foods for classroom celebrations/parties that are pre-packaged with food labels listing ingredients and possible presence of food allergens, and not bringing in home made foods.

8.     Encourage the use of non-food items for all classroom activities/events, as a way to avoid the potential presence of major food allergies.

9.     Develop a procedure that will alert substitute teachers to the presence of any student with food allergies and accompanying instructions.

10. Encourage students to wash hands before and after eating.

11. Develop standard procedures for cleaning desks, tables, and the general classroom area.

School Environment
Work together to make the school environment as safe as possible by:

1.     Developing cleaning procedures for common areas (i.e., libraries, computer labs, music and art rooms, hallways, etc.).

2.     Develop guidelines for food fundraisers like bake sales, candy sales, etc. that are held on school grounds.

3.     Discourage the use of food/food items as rewards for students/classrooms from outside organizations, such as, PTO/PTA, fundraising organizations, sports groups, etc.

4.     Avoid the use of food products as displays or components of displays in hallways.

5.     Develop protocols for appropriate cleaning methods following events held at school, which involve food.

Field Trips
Students will food allergies should participate in all school activities and must not be excluded based on their condition.

1.     Encourage long term planning of field trips in order to ensure that food allergy students receive needed services while away.

2.     Establish procedures for the emergency administration of medications.

3.     Communicate Individualized Emergency Action Plan and provide training on food allergies to staff, as appropriate, for field trips and other school sponsored functions.

4.     Establish procedures for emergency staff communication on field trips.

Needs of food allergy students need to be addressed when being transported to and from school and to school-sponsored activities.

1.     Drivers should be made aware of students with food allergies, symptoms associated with food allergies, and how to respond.

2.     Establish procedures for emergency communication during transport.

3.     Establish guidelines for eating on buses/vans.

Establish emergency guidelines and procedures in advance of an emergency and be prepared to follow them.

1.     Provide training for school personnel on life threatening allergic conditions.

2.     Provide a list of those designated by the Principal and trained by the school nurse to administer epinephrine, and disseminate the list appropriately.

3.     Ensure that epinephrine is quickly and readily accessible in the event of an emergency.

4.     Coordinate with local EMS on emergency response in the event of anaphylaxis.

A food allergy student may become a victim to threats of bullying related to their condition.

1.     Remind students and staff that bullying or teasing food allergy students will not be tolerated and violators will be disciplined appropriately.

2.     Review confidentiality with faculty and staff to prevent open discussion about the health of specific students.

3.    Discourage labeling of food allergic students in front of others.  A food allergy student should not be referred to as “the peanut kid” or any other name related to the student’s condition.

Junior High/High School Students
Food allergic teens have unique needs because of the characteristics of a typical junior high or high school day.  There are addition factors that need to be taken in to consideration at the secondary level in order to provide the best care for the food allergy teen, such as:

1.     Open lunch periods and accompanying friends to local eateries.

a.     Reinforce to student and parents avoidance strategies, epinephrine availability, and designated assistance.

2.     Moving from classroom to classroom and the risk of exposure to food allergen.

a.     Reinforce to student and parents avoidance strategies, food allergen awareness, and frequent hand washing.

3.     Classes that have new avoidance issues i.e., chemistry/biology, home economics/culinary class, etc.

4.     Off site school sponsored activities increase i.e., travel, sometimes overnight to other states and foreign countries, athletics, dances, etc.

a.     Encourage the student and parents to have a plan and communicate this plan with the school nurse, administrator and school staff.

5.     Students have access to vending machines, so students need to be aware of the risk of cross contamination.

 Family’s Role

1.     Notify the school of student’s food allergies.

2.     Work with the school to develop a plan that accommodates the student’s needs throughout the school, including the classroom, cafeteria, school-sponsored activities, and transportation, as well as, an Individualized Emergency Action Plan.

3.     Provide written documentation form your licensed health care provider with instructions and medications using a Medication Administration Form and Food Allergy Action Plan as a guide.  Include a photo of your child on the Food Allergy Action Plan.

4.     Provide properly labeled medications and promptly replace medications after use or upon expiration.

5.     Educate the child in the self management of their food allergy including:

a.     Safe and unsafe foods

b.     Strategies for avoiding exposure to unsafe foods.

c.      Symptoms of allergic reactions.

d.     How and when to tell an adult they may be having an allergy-related problem

e.     How to read food labels.

6.     Provide current emergency contact information and update regularly.

Student’s Role

1.     Students should not trade food with others.

2.     Students should not eat anything with unknown ingredients or known to contain any allergens.

3.     Students should be proactive in the care and management of their food allergies and reactions based on their developmental level.

4.     Students should notify adults immediately if they eat something they believe may contain the food to which they are allergic.

School’s Role

1.     Review the health records submitted by parents and physicians.

2.     School Nurse, Principal, Teacher, and School Food Service work with parents and student (age appropriate) to develop an Individualized Emergency Action Plan.

3.     Assure that the staff who work with the food allergy student understand food allergies, symptoms, what to do in an emergency, and work with all staff to eliminate, as much as possible, the use of food allergens in the allergic student’s meals, educational tools, arts and crafts projects, or incentives.

4.     School nurse ensures medications are appropriately stored, and available.  Epinephrine is kept in a secure but unlocked location that is easily accessible to designated school personnel.

5.     Students permitted to self-administer should be permitted to carry their own epinephrine, in accordance with state regulations and school district policies.

6.     Designate school personnel who volunteer to administer epinephrine in an emergency.

7.     Work with transportation to:

a.     Ensure that school drivers receive training that includes symptom awareness and what to do in an emergency.

b.     Assess the emergency communication with the drivers.

8.     Discuss field trips and appropriate management of the food allergy student with parents and appropriate faculty and staff.

9.     Follow federal and/or state laws and regulations regarding sharing medical information about the student.

10. Take threats or harassment against the allergy student seriously.


These roles were adapted from

Developed by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network in conjunction with:

American Food Service Association
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of School Nurses
National School Boards Association
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network