Social Question

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Is this a fair situation?

Asked by WillWorkForChocolate (23117points) November 5th, 2010

I received an email from my daughter’s teacher stating that because a boy in their class has a peanut allergy, their classroom must be a peanut free zone. She is referring to snacks and such.

My problem with this is that my daughter (and a few other kids in the class) has a dairy allergy, so unlike a lot of the other kids, she can’t take cheese crackers or other cheese snacks for her study snack, but she is the type of kid who needs protein in the snack so she doesn’t crash.

She doesn’t do well with just taking pretzels or Chex Mix or things like that, because empty carbs make her ADD worse. She was taking peanut granola bars and other peanut snacks since peanuts have protein in them, but now I’ve been scrambling to figure out what she can alternate taking for protein, so she doesn’t take the same thing every day and get sick of it. So far, she’s been taking a SlimJim stick with a fruit bar, but SlimJims are fairly unhealthy because of all the nitrites and other additives.

It just frustrates me that because of one kid, the whole class had to get an email about peanuts. I mean, seriously, what the hell does this kid do in the lunchroom? You know there are kids in there eating PBJ sandwiches! Are we next going to get a school wide email about “no peanuts”?

I kind of feel like his parents should be the ones to find an alternative situation at snacktime, instead of making the rest of the class do so.

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54 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think a dairy allergy is as ‘dangerous on contact’ as a peanut allergy. Now, imagine yourself as a parent of the kid with the peanut allergy, how would you feel if some other uppity parent complained how her super-picky-eater kid can’t deal without peanuts, a substance that may damage your child?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Peanut allergies are a real serious situation. In this case, I can see the schools reasoning. Is it fair? Probably not. Is it necessary? Yes.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Dairy allergies give you stomach pain and gas; nut allergies can kill the person.

Schools are required by law to react in a certain manner when a parent notifies them of a student with a nut allergy. A kid can end up hospitalized for a week for a reaction to a nut allergy, or dead. Their throat closes and they cannot breathe. My old boss almost died because someone at work thought he was trying to avoid eating the cake she brought into work, so she told him no nuts when in fact there were nuts in it. It was awful.

Food manufacturers are required to disclose on packaging if the product is manufactured in a facility where nuts are processed.

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s not fair or necessary, in my opinion. The kids knows he can’t eat nuts, right? Does the kid avoid every place that has peanuts? But there are many other kinds of nuts, you know.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

It sucks but if the boy’s allergy can be irritated by proximity as well as ingestion and your daughter’s allergy is strictly ingestion then singling out his is reasonable.
I don’t know a thing about nut allergies.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m not being “uppity” about it, I just feel that’s it’s not entirely fair to the rest of the class. And it’s not that my kid is a “super picky eater” it’s that carbs convert to sugar in the body, and her body doesn’t react well to that. There are several other kids in the class just like that. And like I said, if the whole class has to get that email, what does that boy do about eating in the lunchroom? A good portion of the lunchroom is filled with Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

@BarnacleBill I get that the two allergies are very different, I’m not a complete flaming idiot. My problem is that he is one person, and the class is 25. My husband is highly allergic to shrimp, and yes to the point where it could kill him. We still eat in seafood restaurants and we don’t tell the people around us that they’re not allowed to order shrimp. If my hubby starts feeling ill, then he takes a special medication to gradually stop the anaphalactic reaction. Why? Because it’s his responsibility, not everyone else’s.

sakura's avatar

I worked with a child who had allergic reaction to peanuts just by holding a childs hand that had eaten peanut butter that morning for breakfast… they were very poorly for a long time! Imagine if she had been sat next to someone with peanuts in their lunch.
Your husband is an adultand can make that decision to pu him self at risk the child in question can not do that

As for snacks for your child could you make smoothies with daiy free milk?

sakura's avatar

plus surely it is not good for the body to continually be pumped with a medication, when it could be avoided?

BarnacleBill's avatar

But he is also a kid. And nuts are in things that don’t seem to have nuts in them. Processed foods created in facilities that process foods for nuts. It’s even a trace of peanut that can create a reaction.

All it takes is one parent who thinks allergies are a lot of bunk and you end up with EMS in the classroom.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate No, I know you’re not uppity but you will be so perceived by the other parents – it’s all about perception and to them, it’s all about their children…It doesn’t matter what happens in the lunchroom, what matters is that the teacher, at least, is trying to address the kid’s problem which, to me, seems to be more important than your kid’s problem and that’s just objectively speaking.

Seaofclouds's avatar

It depends on the severity of the child’s allergy. Some children have such a severe peanut allergy that just coming into contact with a child with peanuts on their hands can sent them into an anaphylactic reaction. I’ve seen schools go peanut free, so a classroom doing it doesn’t surprise me and I wouldn’t be too surprised if the school did as well.

It sucks, but the teacher is trying to protect the child with the peanut allergy as best she can.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@sakura The parents of the child in question could very easily arrange for him to eat his snacks in the teachers’ lounge.

My biggest point here is this: why send out an email to the classroom about it, when he’s just as likely to encounter the same situation in the lunchroom?

BarnacleBill's avatar

What if were your child? Would you want your kid eating snack in the teacher’s lounge by himself? Would you want him to come back to a classroom and accidentally come in contact with peanut product residue on a desk or tabletop?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@BarnacleBill I honestly don’t think allergies are a load of bunk, I believe in taking allergies seriously, BUT how is an email to the classroom supposed to stop the same allergy in the lunchroom? It’s stupid, IMO. And if it were my child, instead of inconveniencing a large group of people, I would be finding alternative means for my child’s snacktime and lunchtime.

BarnacleBill's avatar

How it’s being addressed in the lunchroom is an interesting question, and one you should raise.

And I didn’t mean you regarding allergies as bunk; I’m speaking in general. We had a parent in my daughter’s third grade class who believed that the only way to get over allergies was through exposure to whatever it was that you were allergic to. Unfortunately, her daughter had a dairy allergy and was constantly missing school because of stomach pains.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@BarnacleBill Yeah, that woman is just ignorant. You can’t overcome food allergies by repeated exposure! Anyway, it’s not that I’m planning to complain to the school about our situation or anything, because that would just cause a lot of drama and make me look like a complete ass. I just think it’s pretty unfair of the parents to expect everyone else to adjust their eating habits because of that one child.

And it’s not that my daughter’s dairy allergy is anywhere near as severe as a nut allergy, it’s just that with her body chemistry and ADD, she can’t function on simple carbs like pretzels and sugary snacks like Disney fruit snacks like some of the other kids can. Her brain goes berserk and she can’t focus on anything. If she doesn’t have protein at breakfast, snack and lunch, her grades drop. Drastically.

Like I said, if it were my daughter with the nut allergy, instead of expecting everyone else to make adjustments for her, I would find other arrangements for my daughter at snacktime and lunchtime.

sakura's avatar

As a teacher, I know how much the teachers room is a haven for teachers… a place to go inbetween classes to get a much deserved break. Also ask yourself would your child want to sit in the teachers lounge – alone?
Peanuts were banned across the whole school where the child, I worked with, went, as her allergy was so severe!
Not one parent complained in fact mant congratulated the head for being caring. (There were 2 other children in the school with peanut allergies!)

I don’t see how not having peanuts in school would be such an inconvenience!

I know you stated your child needs protien, but protein can be found in lots of other foods not just dairy I hope this link helps you find some alternatives for your daughter’s snack, compromise is the key, but I do feel expecting a child to sit on their own is a bit harsh!
And once again as stated before, your husband chooses to put himself at risk (as an adult) by going to seafood restaurants also heavy relience on epi pens can not be a good thing, would this not be like a diabetic relying on their medication and using it as justification to have more to drink at the weekend, the body’s natural systems would be put out of balance? (not an expert)

Seaofclouds's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate The problem isn’t just during snack and lunch time though. Some children can die just from contact with someone that has peanuts on their hands. So if the children are eating peanuts at their desks and the child with the peanut allergy touches the desk where the peanuts were, the child could have a reaction. In a situation where the child is in that one room all day, it’s a lot more risky having the peanuts in that room.

There are many other sources of protein other than peanuts. You can still make sure your daughter gets her protein.

marinelife's avatar

Have you tried almond butter? It has a nice taste and substitutes well for peanut butter.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Seaofclouds Yes, but apparently lunchtime is not being addressed, which should be just as big of an issue as snacktime. Just snacks in the classroom have been mentioned.

And I understand that there are other foods with protein. Cheese is one, and she obviously can’t eat that. Little finger sandwiches and meat sticks are full of protein but they aren’t very healthy, since they are loaded with nitrites and other additives, like I mentioned in an above post.

It irritates me when I feel like people haven’t read what I’ve already said and try to give me advice that I already know.

tinyfaery's avatar

How about walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts…?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I’m sorry if you felt I ignored what you already wrote, but there are sources other than what you just mentioned as well. Have you asked if they are planning to do something about the lunchroom? I really get that you are upset, but really you expect a kid to be isolated because they have an allergy? Why should one child have to be isolated? That’s like punishing the kid because of their allergy. I get the feeling you really want people just to say it’s wrong and agree with you. Sorry, but I don’t think you are right in insisting a child should be isolated because of a life threatening allergy just so your daughter can eat peanuts. You want them to make a major change for their child’s socializing time in school, but you don’t want to have to change your daughters snack. I’m sorry, but insisting someone else make a change when you don’t want to yourself doesn’t seem very fair or compassionate to me. I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s how I feel. If my son had a severe peanut allergy, I hope he wouldn’t have a child with a parent that thinks he needs to be isolated because of it in his class.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@marinelife Yes, and she likes almond butter, it’s just kind of hard to send her with almond butter sandwiches for a snack, because it’s kind of messy/sticky. I’m trying to find non-messy finger foods that we can alternate. Hopefully, ones that are healthier than processed meats.

sakura's avatar

@Seaofclouds ditto!
plus I did state that there were other alternatives – other than dairy!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

sigh… I realize that it’s not his fault, okay? And it’s not that I don’t feel compassionate about his allergy. It’s just that I know what I would do if I were in that situation. And I can promise you that if they sent out a school-wide email saying “no peanuts”, I wouldn’t be the only irritated parent.

crisw's avatar

As far as the snacks- how about any of the following?

• Nuts other than peanuts
• Tofu jerky or other jerky without preservatives
• Soynut mix- you can get a great one at Costco with soynuts and dried fruit

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@crisw They actually make jerky without preservatives? And I like the idea of the soynut mix, but dried fruit has quite a bit of sugar in it… at least all the ones I’ve checked out do.

crisw's avatar


Yes, as a vegetarian I have had some great preservative-free veggie jerkies! Primal is my favorite brand.

As for the soynut mix; I can check it when I get home but I am pretty sure there is no sugar.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@crisw Nice! Would you let me know about the sugar content? I would really appreciate it! We actually have a Costco here so that would be awesome.

sakura's avatar

mmmm… I think it will have to be a case of agree to disagree, I appreciate you know that it is not the childs fault, but would you really want your child sat on their own at dinner time?

To help you with snack ideas how about trying to make some dried fruit, I haven’t tried it my self but it looks pretty simple ..!! – I also found this goggling, I am guessing you are in America – teachers room, not staff room! So hope that helps too!
Good Luck and remember any problems you feel have arisen from this email talk to the teacher and ask them about the lunch room scenario, I’m sure they would be onlt too happy to advise. GOOD LUCK

crisw's avatar

This is the soynut mix that I got at Costco- not sure if they still have it; I got it about 2 months ago.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Someone very close to me was that “Pain In the Ass” kid with the peanut allergy. When he was in pre-school he would come home with hives on his hands and face because he merely touched a surface touched by another child. He would have difficulty breathing by just being in the same room with another kid eating peanut butter. The choice was to stuff him with benadryl daily (which turned him into a zombie), carry 2 epipen auto-injectors that the teacher would have to inject, or ask others to be tolerant. We asked for tolerance and no one complained.
The class learned a lot by it. Like those who cut their hair in support of the girl that has cancer. They become friends for life. The “kids” are still friends.
This is fantastic opportunity for you as a parent to show some class and, by example, teach your child to help and tolerate others. I am sure there are plenty of other foods that work. Soy nuts, pine nuts, veggie sticks are not usually a problem. Ask the parent. She will have many suggestions.
Believe me, the child is not making it up. A peanut allergy can be life threatening.
Think how you would feel if the situation was reversed and behave accordingly.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@worriedguy Thanks for the input, and I’ve already said how I would feel if the situation were reversed.

crazyivan's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I work in schools and in my experience the lunchroom often reserves an isolated place for children with peanut allergies. These allergies are very often fatal on contact and even being in the same airplane as a person eating peanuts could be enough to kill someone with a severe enough allergy.

It is entirely fair. Kids having dairy snacks are not a threat to a person with dairy allergies survival. I think the school should have done a better job educating parents when the situation arose, but rest assured that this is a very necessary precaution.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@crazyivan Perhaps, but there is no “reserved” place like that at our school. I know, I have taken a special lunch to my daughter and eaten with her there. All the kids eat at a table full of their own classmates. My daughter’s class sits at one table, another 4th grade class sits at another table, and so on. They group all lunch tables that way.

Guys, and I mean everyone on this thread- please don’t take my attitude to be dismissive of the kid’s allergy. My husband has a good friend who has to go to the ER if he comes into contact with peanuts or food cooked in peanut oil. I understand exactly what this allergy is, okay? Please stop insisting that I’m either ignorant of how dangerous the allergy is or that I’m simply too selfish to care about the kid. I just feel that there are other alternatives to the situation.

@crisw That’s great, thanks! I googled the product and am happy to find that there are only 6 grams of sugar per serving. That’s not bad, and I’ll probably be going to Costco this weekend to get some.

Kayak8's avatar

This topic spurs so many thoughts in my head:

1. Many places that process nuts (almonds, etc) also process peanuts (and indicate this on their package) so even some of the other nuts may not be safe for this kid to be around.

2. I totally get the OP’s concern that a nut-free classroom is silly in a nut-filled school (outside the classroom and including the lunchroom). It kind of makes the nut-free classroom ridiculous if the child’s allergy is really severe. More and more entire schools are becoming nut free for this reason—a nut-free classroom might not be enough.

3. If a nut-free classroom IS enough, it makes me curious about the severity of the child’s allergy.

4. The OP indicated that if it were her daughter with the nut allergy, she would find other arrangements for her kid at snack and lunchtimes. @WillWorkForChocolate as your child also has a viable allergy with additional complications related to ADD, is it not possible for you to find other arrangements for YOUR kid at snack and lunchtimes. Could the school nurse take her to a safe space to eat some peanut butter? As you are the parent of a child whose needs are not being considered, is the burden on you to make the other arrangements? Clearly, the nutty kid wins in this instance, but you still get to stand up for what your kid needs.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Have you tried vegan cheese products?

Brian1946's avatar

How about light tuna fish (supposedly much less mercury than albacore tuna) sandwiches, chicken, or turkey for protein?

I would also suggest Boca or Wild Wood organic SprouTofu Veggie burgers, but would your daughter prefer to eat them when they’re hot and is there a viable arrangement at her school to heat them?

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Removed by me.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Kayak8 Thanks for that post. That’s all I wanted was a little understanding about my point of view and the fact that it’s silly to place a peanut restriction in the classroom, but not the whole lunchroom. And yes, I can very easily have my daughter go to the nurse’s office to eat a peanut butter snack if she needs to, but I’m trying to find alternative snack foods for her before we resort to that. I had to do that sometimes as a kid.

We didn’t get a snacktime in class, and I’m hypoglycemic, so there were arrangements for me to go to the nurse’s office as often as I needed, in order to have a snack. All my teachers also kept a small tube of that cake decorative icing in their desks, just in case I collapsed and they needed to immediately get my blood sugar back up. But there again, my mother made private provisions to take care of my needs; she didn’t challenge the school and demand snacktime in class because of my health issues. (And yes, my hypoglycemia is severe and can sometimes be as dangerous as having an allergy.) She solved the problem by making arrangements solely for her own child, not by making the rest of the class accomodate me.

@BarnacleBill We have, but all 4 of us think they taste pretty foul. We’ve tried “veggie cheese”, “rice cheese”, “soy cheese”, and so on, and none of them are very palatable to us.

@Brian1946 Another good idea with the tuna snacks, thank you very much! I’d have to figure out a way to send it where it doesn’t require utensils and won’t make a mess dripping out of bread though. Maybe I could do it up in those pita pockets?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

And one more thing guys, just for clarification, since several comments have been downplaying my daughter’s dairy allergy and making me look ridiculous for comparing it to a peanut allergy- it’s not that my daughter is lactose intolerant and she just gets gas cramps or bloating. She is actually allergic the the dairy itself. She gets physically sick from it. Purple puffy eyes, major sinus blockage, uncontrollable coughing, and she’s missed school because of it. I’m not saying it’s as anywhere near as serious as anaphylactic shock with peanut allergies, but it’s not a simple case of cramping from lactose intolerance either.

Just thought some of you might want to know that there is more to dairy allergies than simple lactose intolerance.

Whitsoxdude's avatar

Without reading all the responses

I think that the reason they banned them in the classroom, is that it is a more confined space.
In a large lunch room it is easier to avoid the scent of peanuts.
I am allergic to peanuts myself, and although I wouldn’t actually want them banned or anything, it becomes very hard to focus on my work when someone at my table is snacking on something with peanuts in it.
I would say that this is unfair unless he’s one of those kids who are so bad that their throats start closing if they smell it.

Brian1946's avatar


“Maybe I could do it up in those pita pockets?”

That’s a good idea.
I would suggest packing the pocket short of the opening to minimize spillage.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Brian1946 Yep, and I could even get her some shredded veggies in there to go with it if it’s in a pocket like that. I really like that idea.

Note to self: grocery shopping this weekend…

daytonamisticrip's avatar

Your right, It’s not fair but tell me something that is.
You could give her a bag of mixed nuts. I can’t really think of anything else, sorry.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yet another good reason for home schooling.

Kardamom's avatar

Just the dust from peanut products can cause a person who has a severe allergic reaction to peanuts to go into anaphylactic shock and they can die.

People with milk allergies don’t have that same problem, they just need to avoid eating it.

So now onto some things that your daughter can eat instead of peanut butter. First, I would talk with the school nurse and/or counselor who is suggesting the ban on peanuts and peanut products and ask them if it’s ok for the kids to consume other nut butters (many people that are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to other kinds of nuts, so find out if they are banning other nuts too) If other nut butters are allowed, most any kind of nut butter is delicious from almond, to pistachio to hazelnut. You can fix sandwiches or you can use the nut butters to make cookies (and they’re super delicious) Here’s a recipe for Macadamia Nut-butter and dried cranberry cookies

Here’s a delicious sounding recipe for Udon Noodles with Tofu and Almond-butter sauce

Of course there’s tons of things that you can do with the various types of tofu. I especially like the baked tofu, which is a little bit more firm and can substitute for chicken and/or eggs in sandwiches (of course there’s always chicken, turkey and eggs if your daughter can eat those things). You can also just serve cubes of baked tofu with her favorite condiment like mayo, mustard, ketchup or barbecue sauce. It’s also tasty put on a toothpick with a piece of fresh pineapple and a grape tomato.

Here’s a good site that explains tofu and gives 20 recipes for things that most kids would like, here

And of course there’s a lot of new “fake meat” products on the shelves these days, just check the labels to make sure there’s no milk, whey or casein. Most of the lunch meat style ones taste pretty good. Brands that come to mind are Tofurkey, Yves and Lightline.

And then there are beans. You can buy or make hummus and you can buy or make barbecued beans and of course there’s always burritos. Plus you can put canned beans onto salads. And here’s a new one I saw recently for crispy roasted garbanzo beans.

Then don’t forget brown rice and whole grains. Here’s a recipe for Mexican rice and here’s a recipe for tabouleh using bulgur wheat . There’s also quinoa, barley and whole grain pastas (for pasta salad, with spaghetti sauce, or with heart healthy margarine or olive oil and parsley).

There’s also a lot of new “vegetarian” or fake cheeses on the market. Check the labels to make sure there are no milk products, like casein or whey, and then just start sampling them until you find some you like. Good luck. : )

Blueroses's avatar

I don’t do well with carb/sugars either so a couple of my favorite protein snack alternatives are smoke-cured salmon and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

cookieman's avatar

Try fruits and vegetables. For protein, a nice three-bean salad.

My daughter’s class has this exact same problem.

Plucky's avatar

I think the fairness depends on the severity of the allergy. If this boy is allergic to peanuts in the sense that he can’t be anywhere near them for fear of death, then, maybe it is necessary. If his allergy is only from the ingestion of peanuts, then it’s not necessary ..nor is it fair.

I understand your concern. All this over one person; some may wonder why the kid is in public school if they’re so fragile. But, these days it’s hard to escape such things (with so many kids having these types of allergies) ..and it’s only getting worse.

I get your question but it is difficult to judge the fairness :)

@crisw I love Primal :)

Joybird's avatar

I have an allergy to peanuts…but I don’t have to avoid environmental contact. But I can’t eat them. I carry an epi. If exposed I could die.
So when I examine the situation you posted about I see a life or death situation versus an intolerance issue. The solution for the problem is not to think in limiting terms about what you could provide for a snack for your child.
There are many more things than just slim jims that provide protein for example vegetables and hummus. Almond butter is a great peanut butter substitute…I know because I can eat it. And how about eggs? Hardboiled, egg salad, deviled, made into half a fried egg sandwich.
Brain storm with some vegans and vegetarians.
I like many other people young and old can’t help the fact that I’m allergic to peanuts. My students are very kind…when they are making peanut butter cookies one of them will always make me brownines. hahahaha

boxer3's avatar

@Joybird I was just going to say Hardboiled eggs!!

boxer3's avatar

also, protein shakes are great, you can get one of those blender ball bottles (about $8 at GNC) and she can mix it up herself at school :]

Nullo's avatar

AFAIK, most kinds of nuts have protein in them. Look for bars made with almonds.

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