Food allergies focus of D181 initiative
Last updated 8/28/2019 at 2:56pm | View PDF
The Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 Board has continued to bolster its food allergy management plan to keep students safe and staff trained in the event of allergy-related medical emergency.
At Monday’s board meeting, Dana Bergthold, executive director of special education, presented the district’s plan, which is entering its second year of implementation. She said the district holds ongoing professional development for all employees and has procured books and curriculum supplements to help students better understand and become more sensitive to the issue of food allergies.
Bergthold said teachers and nurses are working together to most effectively deliver those lessons and “what it means to be a friend of a student with an allergy.”
Field trip sites are considered with food allergy factors in mind, she added, and First Student bus drivers have been apprised of the plan and instructed not to allow kids to eat on the bus. Pre-packaged foods available for purchase at the two middle schools indicate whether an item contains allergens.
Superintendent Hector Garcia commented on the catering menu the district’s vendor, Quest, created to align with the food allergy parameters.
“Now we have more control over what we are serving to kids during celebrations and any type of before- or after-school activity, so we’re really excited about that component,” Garcia said.
The district has scheduled speakers to talk to students about food allergies, and John Munch, assistant superintendent for human resources, told board members that staff training will be an annual event.
“Every year we’ll revisit to make sure that our procedures, our policies, our best practices become known by everyone,” Munch said.
Board member Meeta Patel stressed the need for teachers to be able to quickly identify cases of anaphylactic shock by having a foreknowledge of kids who qualify for so-called 504 plans due to food allergies.
“We want them have a snapshot look at their classroom and say, ‘I have three kids (with food allergies),’ not, ‘I have 10 kids with a 504’ and then have to look to see what is that 504 pertaining to,” Patel said.
Munch said teachers will have to know the specific needs of their students in order to provide that information to a substitute if necessary.
“A component of that substitute folder is all the students in their class who have an allergy or a severe medical need that the substitute needs to be aware of,” he said.
Bergthold said the district has come a long way in recent years addressing food allergy concerns.
“We’ve got a lot of good things planned, a lot of opportunities for our staff to engage in those conversations,” Bergthold said. “(The food allergy management plan) was designed for increasing student safety and making sure that we’re accounting for all of those controls that we can put into place so that students aren’t at risk of having an anaphylactic reaction while at school.”