No matter what grade level you teach, Educators need to be aware of food allergies in their schools and classrooms because currently 1 in 13 U.S. children have a food allergy. Here are some top tips for educators to keep in mind when dealing with food allergies in your classroom:
1.Use non-food incentives for prizes gifts and awards. Kids of all ages love stickers , pencils, anything colorful especially something with glitter and glam to it. Let’s move away from making food a reward system.
2. School pizza parties are fun but they can be very dangerous for kids with food allergies. Pizza is often loaded with cheese which is deadly to a child with a milk allergy, and the pizza crust often has gluten in it and made from wheat . No No’s for students with wheat allergies and Celiacs disease.
3. In general,avoid ordering food from restaurants because food allergies may be present but unrecognized.
4.Encourage kids to wash their hands before and after handling or consuming food-soap and water is best here.
5.Remind students never to share food. While we all like to teach that sharing is caring in schools, it’s not so caring if you share your food with a food allergic child ,so it’s best to eat your own food.
6. Wash down all desks, tables and chairs with soap and water before and after each meal.
7. At the start of the school year make sure you know who in your classroom has a food allergy, who carries an EpiPen, and make sure you know how to use the EpiPen on the food allergic child. In a food allergy emergency, seconds count so teachers must know how to use an Epi Pen.
8. Some craft items actually can contain food allergens. Be sure you know which ones do and modify materials as necessary.
9. Make sure you know the Top 8 allergies that 90% of those with food allergies are allergic to. In the U.S. these include Milk, Wheat, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Seafood, and Eggs.
10. Nip bullying in the bud. Many students with food allergies are often belittled and bullied by other kids. Put an end to this immediately.
Teachers, what tips can you add to the list? Parents, share yours too in our comments section. Find more tips and resources on our Back to School news page