It’s National School Lunch Week….But What if your Child has Food Allergies?

Created by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, National School Lunch Week (NSLW) is celebrated annually during the middle of October. Each year’s NSLW celebration has a theme, and this year is “School Lunch Snapshot. ” It’s about sharing real photos of school lunch through the use of social media. The “snapshot” can change for kids suffering from food allergies, though. Here are some measures you can take to make the school lunch period a safe and happy experience for your child:

school lunch

1. Plan your child’s lunches and snacks.

The safest way to master your child’s eating situation is to pack their lunch and snacks for them rather than opting for cafeteria purchases.

2. Educate your child in handling their food allergies.

Since you can’t always be at your child’s side, educating them to be their own advocate is an excellent practice. Good habits include reading food labels, hand washing, and avoiding food-sharing with other classmates. Also, teach them to become aware of what their body might do during an allergic reaction, how to react, and that it’s ok to ask for help.

3. Meet the school nurse/cafeteria director/principal and work together with them.

Talk to the people who will be present when your child is eating and who make food-related policies at the school. Remind them of your child’s allergy, and discuss efficient ways to prevent allergy attacks. A group called Food Allergy Research and Education has an excellent website with forms you can fill out in collaboration with your school’s leadership team to make sure you have a game plan for handling allergic reactions at school. Print out the forms in advance of your meeting.

4. Stay updated on your child’s condition.

As much as possible, encourage your child to be open with you. Are they being bullied because of their allergies? Feeling like an outsider? Your openness and “can do” attitude will make a big difference in their perception of their own food allergies.