So, the DH is an elementary school principal, and I'm a former elementary teacher, so you can imagine the general topic of our dinner conversation. Anyway, last night DH was telling me about a problem at his school; food allergies. Until now, the general practice (at his school and others in our area) has been to let each teacher handle things in her own room. When I was teaching, one year I had a child with a deadly dairy allergy in my class. Her mom and I talked with all the other parents and worked with the room mom to be sure all snacks and party food were safe for her. Her mom always was good about sending in special snacks, too. It worked great.
But, lately, this system isn't working as well. For one thing, the number of children with serious food allergies has increased rather dramatically (especially peanut allergies.) Why is this? I could go into a serious rant about the GOVERNMENT'S and BIG BUSINESS'S utter failure to protect pregnant mothers, babies, etc. (i.e. lead-laced toys, poisonous plastic baby bottles, trans-fats, etc.) but I won't. You know all that.
Anyway, the other reason that the system is failing is because some people are COMPLETE IDIOTS. Here's the case in point: a 2nd grade child at DH's school has a deadly peanut allergy. Yes, deadly. Just being near any peanut product can cause her throat to swell shut. She must have an Epi-pen on her person at all times. Her mother is very proactive and volunteered to be the room mom for the class in order to be sure that parties and special events were peanut-free. The mom even sent out packets to all of the parents at the beginning of the year with a letter explaining the situation, a photo of her daughter, etc.
Fast-forward to Valentine's Day. Another mom in the class showed up to the class party dressed as a peanut M&M. OK- no big deal, until M&M mom insists on passing out packets of peanut M&Ms to the kids in the class. Room mom politely asks her to stop, reminding M&M mom of her daughter's DEADLY peanut allergy. M&M mom says, "But I have to pass them out- I'm dressed as an M&M!" I have no words to express how I feel about M&M mom (no nice words, at least, so I'll move on.)
Fast forward to yesterday where Room mom meets with my DH and resigns as room mom, in tears of frustration, expressing fear for her daughter's health/safety.
DH doesn't know what to do. Here are his ideas, followed by my responses:
DH:Maybe we should just be a peanut-free school.
Me: You mean people couldn't pack their kid a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?
Me: Horrors! What would Sister eat every day? She would starve!
DH: But what if her peanut butter sandwich could cause another child to become seriously ill or die?
Me: OK, good point. But what about parties?
DH: I'm thinking of having a fruit-only policy for parties.
Me: HORRORS!!! Fruit-only parties? At Christmas? At HALLOWEEN?
DH: It's not like the kids need the candy, you know.
Me: Of course they don't NEED candy, but sweets are what make life worth living when you're a kid. You can't forbid that- it's too cruel!
DH: (exasperated) Then what do you suggest?
Me: (after a few moments of thinking) What if you sent out a list of pre-approved treats people can buy at the store, like packaged Rice Krispy Treats and stuff like that. Then kids can still have some sweet stuff at parties, and you eliminate the risk of homemade goods, etc.
DH: Maybe. That's a thought. I'm going to ask the leadership teacher team and see what they think. It's a big problem.
So, I'm asking you, dear reader. What do you think is a fair solution? I'd appreciate your ideas.
Edited to add: If any of you have schools or school districts with good policies in place regarding food allergies, could you email me at amamaonamission.gmail.com? I think our district is way behind the times (as usual.) Thanks!