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Old 04-05-2012, 11:12 PM   #1
mistysue
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schools and food rules.. pre-packaged snack and lunch requirements

A lot of schools now have rules to help peanut allergic kids- such as requiring snacks to be peanut free or even requiring that ALL snack foods are pre-packaged. Some schools are even requiring that lunch side items from home are pre-packaged items. (no home made baked goods, etc.)

I get protecting kids with bad allergies, that's not what this is about.

It got me and DH thinking, my son can't have wheat, soy, dairy, egg, peanut, sesame, seafood, peas and some other nuts. So if the school makes a rule that ONLY pre-packaged items are allowed, are they allowed to enforce this on a child who can't eat anything that comes pre-packaged? Does my child have to sit by and watch the other kids eat foods he can't have while not being allowed to eat?

Where do they draw the line? Are the *potential* risks to some kids allowed to mandate that my child either directly eats his allergens daily or be home schooled? Are they allowed to say we have to conform or he can't be at the school? He can't eat anything they serve through the school lunch program, so if they took his food and made him get a school lunch (as I have heard of schools doing), he would not be able to eat it.

This came up on another board I go to, I asked this question and was told I could find something. Okay, yes, if I had to pack lunch for my son with pre-packaged foods I would have to send him an entire loaf of bread, entire box of cookies and entire carton of rice milk so that they were sealed. Chips and crackers would come in whole bag quantities. Is $15/day for a nutritionally deficient crappy lunch considered a minor inconvenience I should just suck up and deal with? It seems unreasonable to me that on the one hand there is a kid whose allergy can mandate what food is allowed for an entire school, and on the other is a child who is denied balanced food completely so as to not make the parents of the other anxious. Where does the line get drawn to where somebody can say it's too much to force somebody to invest in lunch? People don't seem to understand that I can't just toss some sandwich crackers in his bag for 10 cents a day. He can't exclusively eat fruit cups every day for years. The parents saying it's a minor inconvenience to save somebody's life aren't looking at their child's lunch cost being more than half of the entire family's grocery bill. If I can't mandate that they only get to send in pre-packaged foods free of all my son't allergens, why do they get to mandate that I only get to send in pre-packaged foods?

Does anybody know if schools with packaged foods rules make exceptions for children with other health needs? In my experience, parents wanting the policy basically say it's your problem if you don't like it, they shouldn't have to keep their kids home... but in the case of numerous other allergies the policy allowing their child to attend creates an insane hardship that would force my otherwise unobtrusive child to stay home.

I'm getting scared wondering if I should scrap saving for retirement and save for DS's meals while in public school instead.
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:08 AM   #2
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I have one child in private school and one in public, and neither school probits you sending your own child home cooked or home made food. My son's school does prohibit peanut items, my daughter's only does if a child in the class has a peanut allergy. My son's school does require pre-packaged goodies if you are giving them to the whole class only, but other districts do not require this. NO ONE can tell your child they have to eat an allergen. I would discuss very clearly with the school district your child's dietary needs and go from there. The rules vary and your child should be a part of everything they can be.
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Old 04-06-2012, 12:30 AM   #3
navywifetill2002
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Our school has serves sunbutter sandwiches and offers a peanut free table but the kids that bring their lunch are free to bring peanut butter sandwiches. They do have a rule that all birthday/class snacks have to come pre-packaged and have the ingredients on the package (I had an issue one day as the snack was cupcakes from a very good bakery but there were no ingredients on the box).
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:09 AM   #4
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It's comforting that there are schools more leniently enacting policies. The only ones you hear about are when they are taking items away. About a year ago I spoke to somebody I knew in high school and her daughter had her entire lunch taken away because she had an unlabeled granola bar. They gave her a school lunch and sent a note home with an amount due.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have the one kid with the exception and the volunteer parent that day didn't realize it and took his lunch. I am going to just keep my fingers crossed nobody with a bad allergy is at his school so it doesn't come up.
Sounds like at the very least, DS is never taking in a treat because we don't even have bakeries that could make something for him and labeled. I can totally live with that.
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistysue View Post
A lot of schools now have rules to help peanut allergic kids- such as requiring snacks to be peanut free or even requiring that ALL snack foods are pre-packaged. Some schools are even requiring that lunch side items from home are pre-packaged items. (no home made baked goods, etc.)

I get protecting kids with bad allergies, that's not what this is about.

It got me and DH thinking, my son can't have wheat, soy, dairy, egg, peanut, sesame, seafood, peas and some other nuts. So if the school makes a rule that ONLY pre-packaged items are allowed, are they allowed to enforce this on a child who can't eat anything that comes pre-packaged? Does my child have to sit by and watch the other kids eat foods he can't have while not being allowed to eat?

Where do they draw the line? Are the *potential* risks to some kids allowed to mandate that my child either directly eats his allergens daily or be home schooled? Are they allowed to say we have to conform or he can't be at the school? He can't eat anything they serve through the school lunch program, so if they took his food and made him get a school lunch (as I have heard of schools doing), he would not be able to eat it.

This came up on another board I go to, I asked this question and was told I could find something. Okay, yes, if I had to pack lunch for my son with pre-packaged foods I would have to send him an entire loaf of bread, entire box of cookies and entire carton of rice milk so that they were sealed. Chips and crackers would come in whole bag quantities. Is $15/day for a nutritionally deficient crappy lunch considered a minor inconvenience I should just suck up and deal with? It seems unreasonable to me that on the one hand there is a kid whose allergy can mandate what food is allowed for an entire school, and on the other is a child who is denied balanced food completely so as to not make the parents of the other anxious. Where does the line get drawn to where somebody can say it's too much to force somebody to invest in lunch? People don't seem to understand that I can't just toss some sandwich crackers in his bag for 10 cents a day. He can't exclusively eat fruit cups every day for years. The parents saying it's a minor inconvenience to save somebody's life aren't looking at their child's lunch cost being more than half of the entire family's grocery bill. If I can't mandate that they only get to send in pre-packaged foods free of all my son't allergens, why do they get to mandate that I only get to send in pre-packaged foods?

Does anybody know if schools with packaged foods rules make exceptions for children with other health needs? In my experience, parents wanting the policy basically say it's your problem if you don't like it, they shouldn't have to keep their kids home... but in the case of numerous other allergies the policy allowing their child to attend creates an insane hardship that would force my otherwise unobtrusive child to stay home.

I'm getting scared wondering if I should scrap saving for retirement and save for DS's meals while in public school instead.
I thought schools mainly had the requirement of pre-packaged foods for those shared by the class. It's fine to send your kid homemade foods, just not to share with others.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perdidochas View Post
I thought schools mainly had the requirement of pre-packaged foods for those shared by the class. It's fine to send your kid homemade foods, just not to share with others.
That is my understanding as well. If I could not provide my child w an unpackaged lunch that would be INSANE. We don't eat artificial stuff, food coloring etc.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:12 PM   #7
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The only pre-packaged food requirements for my children's school is if it is for a class party. Other than that, they are allowed to pack whatever they want. As for allergies, which both my children have, our school district has a special dietary needs form on the website, I was able to download it, fill it out (list allergies and acceptable substitutes), have the Dr sign it, and return it to school. The dietary needs for my children are loaded into the cafeteria computer, and shows up when their lunch cards are swiped. This allows the cafeteria to substitute something in place of the foods they are allergic to this way they still get a balanced meal.
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