Providing the proper accommodations for your child when they are at school can be quite frustrating. What you find to be completely reasonable, others (who do not have to go through the food allergy life) think is completely unreasonable. School staff tend to think a parent is overreacting most of the time; thinking we just want to put our child in a tiny little bubble and treat him like he is a porcelain doll. In reality, we are just trying to lower their chances of having a life changing allergic reaction.

Here are a few reasonable accommodations that school staff should NOT fight you on:

  • All school staff is to be trained to use the epi pen. (This includes cafeteria staff, teachers and office personnel)
  • Teachers will not use the allergen in classroom projects, behavior rewards or lesson plans.
  • *Student is permitted to carry epi pen. An additional epi pen will be kept in the main office.
  • **Student can sit with everyone else at lunch time, with cafeteria staff being informed of the allergy to avoid it going near student.
  • Notices will be sent home to classmates encouraging non-food celebrations (birthdays, holidays etc.) OR to inform them there is an allergic student and remind them of the foods that are NOT safe to bring in.

* If the student is allowed to self carry in the school district and if the parents feel comfortable with it.

** Ultimately up to the parents on the cafeteria conditions.

Here are a few negotiable accommodations that school staff and parents will need to find an agreement on:

  • allowing the child to have a safe snack bag in the classroom (most likely provided by parents)
  • notices sent home to the entire school notifying them of the allergy.
  • nut-free classroom
  • peanut-free zone at lunch time

You are the parent so you decide what is needed so your child can have a great educational experience and, most importantly, a safe experience at school.

If you have any questions about reasonable accommodations for your child, set up a meeting with the school’s principal and/or social worker. They can help you decide on what is absolutely needed. Remember to never let the school talk you out of an accommodation that you know your child needs.




Have a question regarding Peanut, Tree Nut or Other food allergies in school? Want to suggest a topic for me to discuss? Follow Me on Facebook @ or Contact me @ and follow my Inspiredeats column here.

Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies With PTO Mom!

*All information on this page is not to be taken instead of medical advice.*


I have received quite a bit of private messages regarding school activities and how to handle them when having food allergies. It’s normal for a parent to feel nervous, especially a parent of a food-allergic child. Will my child be safe? Will they know what to do if she has a reaction? Will they know what to avoid? These are just some of the questions that go through our minds on a daily basis.

When it comes to planning school events and activities, it make us even more nervous. Most of the time, food is a big part of school events. Every holiday there has to be a food related project or fundraiser. I know with my son’s school, Halloween is all about candy, Thanksgiving they have a “feast” at lunch time”, Christmas is about cookies, Valentines day is about candy, Easter is coloring eggs in class and of course candy; everything has to have food involved.

To ease the stress level, try to talk with the classroom teacher and explain your child’s allergies. If you don’t feel comfortable with your child doing “food projects”, ask if they can do non-food projects. It is best to research some non-food related projects off the internet to give the teacher some options when talking with him/her.

With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, here are some examples of non-food related school projects:

  • Teach an Irish step dance.
  • Decorate the room with shamrocks made from construction paper.
  • Plan a St. Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt that leads to a pot of gold filled with treasures,( pens, pencils, stickers and/or erasers).
  • Read about Irish history

For a pre-spring break activity:

  • Plan a nature walk to see plants re-awakening in
    the spring weather.
  • Decorate plastic eggs with paints and stickers.
  • Decorate flowerpots for parents and plant a flower or seed.
  • Have parents donate plants that children can plant in the school yard or at a housing project, senior center, or other community site.

Another option is to ask to volunteer in the classroom on special days where you know food will be an issue. Days such as the last day of school before spring break. That day is usually all about Easter related activities. Egg painting, candy and Easter egg hunts are just some of the activities that you typically see. If you are there, you can monitor anything your child is exposed to, to make sure it is safe.

Good communication is the key to a successful allergy-free school year. If you communication on a regular basis with the ones who will be around your child the most, they can prepare themselves properly. Also, when communication is good, they all can feel comfortable with calling you anytime of the school day, if there is a question or concern.

School is about learning. Make sure you teach your child to be safe and understand what is safe and what isn’t. When in doubt, throw it out!



Have a question regarding Peanut, Tree Nut or Other food allergies in school? Want to suggest a topic for me to discuss? Follow Me on Facebook @ or Contact me @ and follow my Inspiredeats column here.

Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies With PTO Mom!

*All information on this page is not to be taken instead of medical advice.*


Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies with PTO Mom.

Suggestion from a reader: Dealing with schools that are not so willing to accommodate. ~Since I recently went through some “drama” with my son’s school, I thought this would be perfect for me to discuss.

Unfortunately, sometimes you come across schools are that hesitant on providing accommodations for your food allergic child. I never understand why, however, for some reason it happens. I would think that the school would want to do anything you request (reasonable requests) to make sure your child is safe, and to protect the school from a lawsuit. However, there are still, in this day in age, people who do not understand the importance of food allergies. I had a personal experience with this. Here is what I went through:

I had an informal written agreement with the principal, school social worker and school nurse to: send home notices reminding parents and students that it is a peanut free school, provide parents and students with a list of safe snacks (which i provided), and post notices on the walls of the hallways near the entrance and cafeteria that it is a peanut free school. This plan was the same as last year and worked fine last year. There has been staff changes this year which changed our principal. I noticed this year that NONE of the requests I had made were being followed. Two students actually brought in peanut butter crackers and pb&j sandwiches and sat at his lunch table! So, I requested a meeting with the principal and school social worker.

In this meeting, I discussed my requests with them and any changes that needed to be made. I discussed protecting my son under the Section 504 plan, to which both of them denied it, saying food allergies do not qualify. If you are prescribed an epipen, you have a life threatening condition which can be considered a disability, therefore would qualify! The school principal refused to send out notices reminding parents that the school is peanut free, claiming it was denied by the marketing department, which it was fine in the previous school year so I believe this was an excuse. So, I contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

*If you have a problem, the first thing you should do is contact the school’s principal to set up a meeting to discuss your concerns.*

I had it confirmed by PA Dept of Edu. that if it states it in the handbook (peanut-free school), there is nothing preventing them from sending it home to parents because the policy is already in place. So, I requested it again, this time in writing. I also contacted student services, and filed a complaint with the district.

*The second thing you should do after trying to work with the school, is contact the state’s Dept of Education to find out what their policies are regarding managing food allergies in school.*

When I didn’t hear back in a timely fashion, I contacted student services at the district’s board of education, my inside source told me that is my best bet for a quick outcome, and told them because of the principal denying my request, he is risking a federal lawsuit in conjunction with them not following the peanut-free atmosphere that supposed to be in that school. I filed a complaint with the district’s school board and then contacted a lawyer.

*The third thing you should do is request the accommodation again. Contact student services at the school district’s board of education. Mention that the school is risking a federal lawsuit by denying accommodations for a food allergic individual. After you have done that, file a complaint with the district’s school board and then, if you feel it is necessary, contact a lawyer. *

Now, I have come to realize, after doing these things, it scares the school. They obviously do not want a lawsuit on their hands and the principal’s supervisor was more than likely on him about the denial of my requests. Immediately after I filed the complaints, I received a phone call from the school principal. He agreed to send a notice home once a month with the school calendar saying “Reminder: We are an Allergy Free” school. Please do not in peanuts or shellfish into the school. (Shellfish was a request from another parent at the school who was having similar problems with the principal).


I also spoke with the cafeteria staff and his teacher so they are aware to not let anything near my son’s table (that he is allergic to). The cafeteria staff now overlook his table everyday at lunch time to make sure he doesn’t come in contact with anything that is not safe for him. I have been  staying on top of this though because I am not going to let another incident happen. The next one could put my kid in the hospital!

*The fourth thing you should do is speak with the staff member that will be around your child the most. (cafeteria staff, teachers, etc). More than likely, everything you have done so far, will “scare” the school into action. If by chance that doesn’t work, I suggest forwarding your experiences to a disability lawyer that specializes in severe food allergies.*

Try not to be discouraged if you come across school staff and/or parents that just “don’t get it”. It is your job to make them “get it”. It needs to be taken seriously. With more people talking about it and understanding the accommodations that need to be made, more people will understand. Food allergies don’t always have to be a bad thing. Bad experiences like mine, seem to work out in the end and turn into a great teaching lesson.


Helpful Resources:



Have a question regarding Peanut, Tree Nut or Other food allergies in school? Want to suggest a topic for me to discuss? Follow Me on Facebook @ or Contact me @ and follow my Inspiredeats column here

Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies With PTO Mom!

 *All information on this page is not to be taken instead of medical advise.*

Welcome to the NEW food allergy advice column, Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies with PTO Mom.

Thank you all for all of your “food allergies in school” questions!

Normally, I would be posting several “Q & A’s” however, since I received several “personal” questions on the topic of entering kindergarten, so I decided to answer them all at once.

Q: My child is starting kindergarten in September. He is allergic to peanuts and walnuts. What do I need to do before the school year starts to make sure he will be safe next school year? – Megan K.

Add. Q: My daughter is entering school, for the first time, in the fall. The school is nut-free. Should I still make accommodations for her? – James L.

Add. Q: My son is allergic to peanuts, but advised to avoid all nuts. He is in kindergarten right now, but he is a little behind so we have decided to hold him back and have him do another year of kindergarten. Should I have a meeting with the staff like I did for this school year or isn’t that needed? – Steph G.

I suggest calling the school to schedule an informal meeting with any staff members (principal, nurse, school counselor and/or school social worker) to discuss your child’s nut allergies. This meeting should happen every year, to refresh everyone’s memory and to change any accommodations that weren’t working for your child in the previous school year.

Before the meeting, figure out what your “goal” for your child is for the upcoming school year. Type it up or write it down so you know exactly what to discuss during the meeting. Note suggestions such as: allowing him/her to have a “safe bag” filled with snacks to be kept in the classroom and also allowing your child to carry and EpiPen. Even if the school is nut-free, you can never be to careful. It is better to have precautions put in place. Personally, I don’t like the idea of “nut-free classrooms” or “nut-free schools” because it gives a false sense of security. My son’s school is “Peanut-free”, unfortunately however, foods containing nuts, make it into the building sometimes. So in the end it is best to be overly cautious.

Be sure to have an “Allergy Action Plan” for your child. These are forms are usually provided by the child’s allergist or pediatrician. You can also have the doctor write out special requests on the “Allergy Action Plan” such as a “nut-free table” in the cafeteria or requesting to self carry and EpiPen. You can print a FREE “Allergy Action Plan (provided by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) HERE.

Most of the time, a simple written management plan with the school nurse, principal and teacher is enough for the parents and the school to feel the child is safe and protected during school hours. If the school is willing to work with you then this is a good option for you to manage your child’s allergies in school. Communication is the key!

School is where children can learn to thrive on their own. Teach your child to be proud of who they are; not ashamed of it. It will show them, and others, that just because they happen to have an allergy to certain foods doesn’t mean that they are less than anyone else. They can still have fun at school, make friends and enjoy life!

Have a question regarding Peanut, Tree Nut or Other food allergies in school? Want to suggest a topic for me to discuss? Follow Me on Facebook @ or Contact me @ and follow my Inspiredeats column here

Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies With PTO Mom!

 *All information on this page is not to be taken instead of medical advise.*