Hey Allergy Moms and Dads,
It’s Debra, food allergy mom and Co-Founder of SnackSafely.com. As back to school always brings anxiety for food allergy parents, I know this year is exponentially stressful. If your child is faced with going back to a classroom where food will be allowed, we want to help you advocate for their safety by making it easy to exclude their allergens from the classroom.
I find that pushback to classroom allergen policies often comes from classmates’ parents not knowing what IS safe to send to school given the limitations. The confusion can cause frustration, complaints, and non-compliance… well, you know the rest!
In my 12 years experience dealing with school principals, teachers, and nurses to keep my daughter safe from her allergens, I have found it is best to arm yourself with easy to implement solutions when requesting new policies. In other words, ask for the change while providing the means to make it easy for all parents to comply. Do it as warmly and pleasantly as you can muster.
The BEST tool in your food allergy parenting toolbox for school (second, of course, to your child always carrying their epinephrine) is the Safe Snack Guide. Our traditional Guide provides options for peanut, tree nut, and Top 8 allergen-free product choices. Now, you can easily customize the Safe Snack Guide for the classroom according to your child’s (and classmates’) specific food allergies, excluding any combination of the Top 8 allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, crustacean shellfish) as well as sesame, mustard, and gluten! The beauty of providing a customized Safe Snack Guide for your child’s class is it makes it easy for parents to comply with classroom allergen exclusions.
I know you are busy and stressed, so I’ve got you covered! Having succeeded in promoting the adoption of the Safe Snack Guide for many classrooms, schools, camps, and sports teams to keep my daughter safe, I wrote an accommodation request for you to tailor and send to your child’s school principal, teacher, and school nurse!
Here’s how it works:
- Create a custom Safe Snack Guide for your child’s classroom:
- Go to custom.snacksafely.com and follow the easy step-by-step instructions;
- Give your guide a descriptive name, like “Ms Sullivan’s 3rd Grade Class”;
- Copy the link to your Custom Safe Snack Guide Home Page (you’ll need it shortly).
- Click here for the form letter to email to your child’s school principal, teacher, nurse, etc. (or if you prefer, you can simply copy and paste the text below.)
- Personalize the letter:
- Replace your child’s name, pronoun and school name where labeled;
- Paste the link to your custom guide where indicated;
- Address the email to your child’s school principal (who makes policy), your child’s teacher(s), school nurse, and anyone else you deem necessary;
- Make any changes to the wording you like, review your edits, and make sure all fields have been filled;
Note that the law is on your side: Thanks to The American Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008, your food allergic child has the right to be safely accommodated any place that receives federal funding, which most likely includes your school.
That said, unfortunately, there are no standards for HOW schools are required to accommodate children with food allergies, so parents are left to themselves to battle for accommodations one school at a time, one class at a time. I urge you to start now by asking for the accommodations your child needs and try your best to “kill them with kindness” as you do it. Compliment first, then explain your needs (it works like a charm!) The form letter provides some examples I have found effective. You’ve got this!
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback on the customization feature of the Safe Snack Guide and how we can make it even better to help you, and let us know how it goes for you at school.
I’m in your corner!
Text of the Form Letter
Subject: Classroom Safety Regarding Food Allergies
Hi (–PRINCIPAL NAME–),
I hope you and your family are doing well. I am sure it has been a challenging time for you leading up to the school year. Please know that you have my support and we are happy to help (–SCHOOL NAME–) school and (–CHILD’S NAME–)’s class in any way we can.
(–CHILD’S NAME–) is so excited to return to school! As (–SHE/HE–) has very serious allergies to (–ALLERGENS–), I am concerned with the safety of the learning environment if food is permitted in (–HER/HIS–) classroom. Even though (–CHILD’S NAME–) will have (–HER/HIS–) own desk, many other surfaces that kids share can pose a threat for cross-contamination if any of (–HER/HIS–) allergens are present. Even if (–CHILD’S NAME–) does not directly eat something with (–HER/HIS–) allergens, (–SHE/HE–) can have an allergic reaction that poses a serious health threat and will interfere with (–HER/HIS–) learning. For example, if (–SHE/HE–) touches a door handle, pencil sharpener or passes papers touched by a child that ate (–ALLERGEN FOOD EXAMPLE–), (–SHE/HE–) can develop hives, a swollen eye, or even a full blown, life-threatening anaphylactic reaction if (–SHE/HE–) touches (–HER/HIS–) eye, nose or mouth following. Not all residue from food is noticeable, so even hand washing can come too late. I am sure you would agree that all children, including those with food allergies, should be provided a safe learning environment in keeping the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008.
I truly appreciate that you have fostered a supportive learning environment for (–SCHOOL NAME–), so I would like to help add to your inclusive policy of safe learning for students with food allergies. As a tool used thousands of times each year in thousands of schools nationwide, SnackSafely.com’s Safe Snack Guide goes beyond food labels when vetting allergen information by working directly with food manufacturers. Using their Safe Snack Guide customizing tool, I created a Safe Snack List for (–TEACHER’s NAME–)’s class avoiding (–CHILD’S NAME–)’s allergens and I will be happy to adapt it for additional students if needed. I have found that most parents are happy to help avoid another child’s allergens as long as they are provided suggestions for foods they can give their child, thus making it much easier for them to comply.
Please click this link to see the interactive list I created for (–TEACHER’S NAME–)’s class with hundreds of snack options: (–PASTE YOUR CUSTOM SAFE SNACK GUIDE LINK HERE–)
I appreciate your consideration and welcome any other help I can give (–TEACHERS NAME–)’s class.
I look forward to hearing from you.
(–PARENT’S CONTACT INFORMATION–)