New Food Allergy Policy for Chester Schools
Chester Consolidated School District tightens policy to guard against anaphylaxis.
After a year of study, the Chester Board of Education passed a new Food Allergy Policy designed to minimize the risk of anaphylaxis due to peanut and tree nuts.
“We should be very proud of this as a community. A lot of hard work and thoughtfulness went into this,” Superintendent Christina VanWoert said.
According to VanWoert, the majority of the allergy protocols have been in place for the last year so parents should not expect any major changes as their children start the new school year. The changes in the policy include a few changes and added protections for students with life threatening food allergies. A key component of the policy calls for all schools to have peanut free classrooms whenever possible as peanut/tree-nut allergies are the most common life-threatening allergy.
During the Aug. 6 school board meeting, VanWoert and the board conceded it was impossible to ensure allergen free foods, as there are as many allergies as there are students.
“But the primary goal is to avoid anaphylaxis,” VanWoert said. “And that meant focusing on peanuts/tree nuts.
The bottom line is all snacks sent to school to be consumed by children in the classrooms must be peanut/tree-nut free. In the addendum to our policy, there is a reference to a web site to help parents find additional ideas for peanut/tree-nut free snacks. There will be a peanut/tree-nut free table available in all of the lunchrooms for students to utilize.
Students without any allergies are permitted to eat peanut butter in the lunchroom, but all peanut butter sandwiches served by Sodexo, the food vendor, will come with a hand wipe. Other hand wipes will be available for students and they will be strongly encouraged to use them, or wash their hands, if they eat peanut/tree-nut products for lunch.
Some parents who attended the meeting expressed concerns that at school wide celebrations, their children would be limited to one or two options to snack on and asked that more be provided for their children so they would feel more included.
“We would expect and hope that parents will be full partners in this,” said board member Heather Ronco. “If you have a child with one of these issues, we would hope you would provide maybe more than one option yourself to help with that.”
Board member Laura Fishman also said that students without allergies sometimes need to adapt for school celebrations.
“I keep a kosher home. So my children know that there are many celebrations at school where they are not allowed to partake in everything that is there,” Fishman said.
Any questions on the policy should be directed to the principals in the district, Melissa Fair at the Dickerson School; Michele Stanton at the Bragg School; and Robert Mullen at the Black River Middle School.