Did She Just Say “Nut-Free Classroom?”

By: Jessica DiRamio

Picture this, it’s the night before school and you’re busy as a beaver getting your kids’ lunches ready for the next day.  PB&J is likely to be at the top of your list for sandwiches, right?  Why not? That’s what WE ate as kids, right?  I mean, who doesn’t love a good PB&J sandwich?  Here’s one better:  a fluffernutter!  Invented in MA (did you know that?), it’s a creamy, gooey concoction of Fluff and peanut butter.  Yum!  I could eat those everyday! ….

Well, I digress.  So you’re putting around the kitchen, quite possibly humming a tune, feeling like Betty Crocker herself and BAM!  Your child notices what you have made and says:  “Mom, we can’t have peanut butter in our classroom.  It’s a Nut-free classroom!”

Come again?

Your child is right: most of the classrooms today are nut-free. With such an astounding increase in food allergies, schools have had no choice, but to err on the side of caution and prevent anything with nuts in it from coming into the room.  And you know what, I wholeheartedly support this.  My 7-year-old, Jaclyn, has had several food allergies in her lifetime, beginning at 12 months when she broke into hives after eating eggs.  Testing done at the Allergist revealed allergies to eggs, shellfish, nuts and milk.  Awesome.  On that fateful day, we were given instructions for using an Epi-Pen, a sheet containing websites listing alternatives to milk, lunch ideas, etc. and were sent packing.  Good luck, DiRamio family.

Luckily, Jaclyn has grown out of most of her food allergies; the egg allergy remains, but we’re hoping that goes away soon too.  So although we no longer avoid nuts, I support the effort in schools 100%.  This can be a heated topic for many but for me; it’s a no-brainer.  While not a super-easy feat to accomplish, nut-free lunches and snacks are possible.  The obvious ones include fruits and veggies and cold cut sandwiches.  Choosing those are a much healthier option, too!  There are also a bunch of sites out there with ideas, including:  The Food Allergy Network, Peanut Safe Food, and so many more.  Doing a simple search for “nut-free snacks” will result in a ton of sites with great ideas.  Many schools are even providing parents with lists of ideas.

I encourage all parents and caregivers to take this newly popular classroom rule very seriously.  There are children out there with such severe food allergies that even smelling the food could result in a bad reaction.  I for one, would never want my child to be the one with the snack that caused another child to have a reaction.  If your classroom has this rule, please follow along.  Ask the teacher or school nurse for guidance if you are a loss for snack ideas.

And save those Fluffernutter’s for after school snacks!  YUMMO!


3 thoughts on “Did She Just Say “Nut-Free Classroom?”

  1. I love PB, but can see why schools forbid it. However, I think some of the allergy rules are getting crazy. I have heard of older kids’ classrooms that have to be hairband free or latex-free pencil eraser only. I know young children need ultra-safe environments, but don’t older kids with allergies need to begin to recognize where they need to be cautious themselves and not just expect every pencil and hairtoy in their vicinity to be “safe”. Or, maybe I just need to get more educated about how dangerous latex and other allergens really can be… It IS a different world these days it seems

  2. My son is highly allergic to peanuts so we substitute sunflower seed butter from our local health food shop. Believe it or not, it almost tastes the same!

    I’m a big evangelist for SnackSafely.com which maintains a great list that has been adopted as the approved snack list by a number of schools and sports leagues in our area. It has a large selection of commonly available snacks that are free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and sesame seeds. When there’s an event at my son’s school that involves food, it doesn’t enter my son’s classroom if it’s not on the list, so we don’t have to worry about accidental ingestion or contact reactions. The list is frequently updated and can be found at http://snacksafely.com/snack-list .

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