When a student is feeling sweaty and faint and looking red, it may not be the flu. It could be a food allergy.
About three million children in the United States have food allergies and some of them are here at Penn Manor.
Penn Manor High School’s cafeteria takes precautions so that kids with food allergies are safe when they eat what the school provides.
Sherlyn Wolf, a lunch lady at Penn Manor, said, “With peanut butter we use a separate cutting board and utensils, and when were done we wash it off and sanitize it. All our menus have stars next to the stuff with peanut butter.”
Another way the school employees are working to keep students safe is by keeping all the staff members in the school aware of the kids with allergies of any kind, according to Wolf.
“Any student that has an allergy has a paper in the nurse’s office,” said Wolf. “When they scan their finger (in the lunch line), their allergy comes up. Probably once a year we have to ask the student if they are allowed to have what is on their tray. If they say they are allowed to eat it now, we send a paper home to update their allergies.”
Many times the school tries not to put peanut butter in things that don’t need it, like cookies.
“We mark the tray if we put out peanut butter cookies for parent’s night or special events,” she said.
School is not the only place where children with allergies have to worry about what they are eating.
Corey Morales, a senior at Penn Manor, said, “My nine year old brother is allergic to milk. When he was younger we really had to watch out for other foods that had milk in them.”
Many students with allergies pack their lunch most of the time just to make sure what they are eating is safe.
Junior, Selena Hasircoglu said, “I’m allergic to tree fruit and tree nuts as long as it’s not pasteurized. I normally pack a lunch. I have to read nutrition labels and carry an epi pen just in case I have an emergency.”
Many students have to take precautions about what they eat when at school and at home, but many students in elementary school are too young to know what they can and can’t eat, so the school has to get involved to keep the child in a safe environment.
A young boy at Conestoga Elementary has a nut allergy that school personnel have to watch carefully. There isn’t much the school has to do this year because the child isn’t involved with other children in other grades,” said an official at that school.
He doesn’t eat lunch in school yet and the kindergarten class has their own playground for recess. They may eventually have to turn the whole school into a nut-free zone.
Dr. Jason D’Amico, an assistant principle at Penn Manor, said, “I guess we would have to see where he is at. He has another nine years until he is here to figure out how to deal with his allergies in school. I’m not sure how allergies progress over time.”
Lisa Heisler, the school nurse at Hambright Elementary said, “We have children with food allergies that have a special spot to sit so they aren’t getting exposed. We’ve sent home letters if they send in birthday snacks. The children we have to be really careful for are the anaphylaxis,when they go into shock or have trouble breathing.”
By Liz Lawrence