Today I was at my sixth grade daughter’s school with a group of mom’s putting together reward bags for the students who received a certain number of behavior points. The bags were made up of candy that was donated by parents. You can probably imagine that there were plenty of peanuts – Snickers bars, Reece’s cups, and then all of the made in the factories, like M & M’s and other chocolates.
You can also probably imagine the concern that this caused some parents with children with peanut allergies. Even at the sixth grade level. I spent some time talking to one of them, who joined us in the packing bags, about her concern. She and some other parents didn’t want their children to feel left out, so we made sure that there were peanut free bags packed for the children who needed them. They do know what they can eat for the most part, but there was one candy none of us were sure about. One of the mom’s went ahead and called the company with the number on the back of the candy. She got the information she needed, and we went ahead and packed it in the peanut free bags.
However, this didn’t stop all the concern. Though the children with allergies will be getting bags with no nuts or peanuts in them, there are over a hundred children getting bags that may or may not be allergy free. We talked with the teachers about some solutions and ways to make sure that the ones with allergies would not be affected by the other candy.
Usually the students get these bags at lunch and can eat them there. While it didn’t work out that they need to wait until they get home to eat them, they are going to take their lunch and candy outside to eat. This way it will keep it out of the lunch room. There will be wipes before they go inside to wipe their hands. Because if you think about it, once it’s eaten and on their hands, it can go to water fountains, door knobs, sink faucets, anywhere. But that’s the thing to, there is peanut butter every day in the cafeteria, and probably trail mix and cookies with nuts and all those things that can get all over school. It can make a person crazy to think about it!
The best we can do is be vigilant and help our children make responsible choices and show responsible behavior. We can’t control everyone else’s food now, and certainly not when they get out of school. We can do only what we can, like call and check things out and talk to teachers and others to help make safe, mutually beneficial decisions. And though our worries may never cease, we have to know we are doing the best we can for our children.