Before our son was diagnosed with food allergies, I was one of those parents that swore no school was ever going to tell me what my children could and could not eat at school. After all, these are my children and it is my job to raise them, and decide their nutritional needs, not the school district's decision to decide certain food allergens should be banned.
Then, this year, our baby was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. In an IgE RAST test, he tested positive to be allergic to seven of the top eight food allergens and then some, with peanut being his highest risk food allergy.
Recently, the topic of which food allergens should be banned from schools came up on our local radio station's morning talk show, and it was interesting and eye-opening to hear the different opinions from the listeners who called in on how banning a specific food allergen from a school would personally affect them, and others with similar situations. Based on the opinions presented, this is Why I Don't Believe Food Allergens Should Be Banned From Schools.
Why I Don't Believe Food Allergens Should Be Banned From Schools
Risks of Lowering Immune Systems by the Masses
A doctor called in addressing the dangers of banning peanuts, or any other type of food from the public. His concern was that by removing the product from public places, exposure, the means by which the immune system is built, would no longer be present opening up others to develop the allergy as well.
Let's Face It, Peanut Butter is Affordable
Another caller brought up the concern of low-income families being denied the opportunity to buy an inexpensive, yet nutritional option for their children to eat at school.
Peanut butter is a staple for many families on a budget, more so now than ever during these tough times, and requiring low-income families to buy the more expensive food they normally would not buy, and most likely cannot afford, is not fair to those families.
…And What About Vegans?
Some children are vegan by choice, while some children don't eat meat for a variety of other reasons: they don't like the flavor or the texture, and so forth. For these children, nuts are a way for them to get the nutritional protein they need on a daily basis, to replace the protein they lose by not eating meat.
…Or Those With a Dairy Allergy?
Many children get a high amount of their daily protein from milk. If you have a child who is allergic to dairy, then peanuts are one of the most convenient high-protein foods your child can eat to replace the protein they cannot get from milk.
…Or Those With a Learning Disability?
Children with certain learning disabilities, like autism, for example, may only eat certain foods and next to nothing else. How is that parent, who struggles to get their child to eat in the first place, supposed to tell their child they can no longer bring the only food they'll eat to school? What will happen when that child no longer receives the daily nutrition they need, and they fail to thrive?
I am a firm believer in being self-responsible. Parents of children with food allergies who do not teach their children what they can and cannot eat are doing them an injustice. Even when others have your children's best interest in mind, you cannot expect them to get it right 100 percent of the time, and who's fault if they do happen to get it wrong?
In my recent article, Food Allergies: It's a Family Affair, I talk about how we have taught our baby's older brothers to be advocates for him to help protect him. Our twins both have the confidence to educate others about their little brother's food allergies and have even been known to block others from coming near their little brother if that person has food in their hands.
Even though I now have a child with multiple food allergies, I still do not believe food allergens should be banned from schools. It is not the responsibility of others to protect and raise my child. That is my job as a parent, and others should not have to be inconvenienced because of his medical condition.
I still believe banning specific foods from a school is too drastic, but I do believe all concerned parties should work together to find a way to protect allergic children and keep them safe.