By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietician
It’s Food Allergy Awareness Week! Over 32 million Americans have a serious and potentially life-threatening food allergy. The top 8 allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy - tree nuts being the #1 allergen.
Our menus are 100% free of peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. In addition, we offer soy milk and soy yogurt as two alternatives for cow’s milk and yogurt. Other menu items such as eggs and fish can easily be substituted with a safe choice for your child. In addition, we also restrict outside food being brought into the centers. This helps to keep your child safe as there is less risk for cross contamination.
At our schools, we take food allergies seriously this week and every week of the year. Before enrolling or once a severe allergy is identified, there is a Severe Allergy Packet that must be completed. This packet ensures that our staff is aware of the allergies, what reactions to watch for and the procedure if an allergic reaction would occur. If your child is prescribed an Epi-Pen, then a minimum of 4 staff members must be trained on the use of the medication to ensure the safety of your child. Basic training on food allergies and intolerances is completed annually by all staff. In addition, the kitchen and each classroom are required to display the allergy in a designated area where staff have access to it.
If you would like to learn more, check out some activities brought to you by FARE (Food Allergy Research Education) including cooking demos, quizzes, and ask the expert.