Fall Festivities and Students with Allergies

September 29, 2020 12:02 PM | Anonymous
With the school year in full swing, most students are looking forward to the next big holiday, Halloween.  Many schools may schedule special days for dressing up or classroom parties.  Students enjoy dressing up, laughing with friends and hope to go home with lots of candy.  However, for many, Halloween is just the beginning of food focused holidays which can bring about anxiety and stress for students with food allergies.  The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website reports that 1 in 13 students, two per classroom, has a life-threatening food allergy.  Although virtually any food can cause an allergic reaction, the most common food allergens, also called the “Top 8”, are: peanut, tree nut (such as almond, pecan, walnut, etc), milk, wheat, egg, soy, fish and shellfish.  Food allergies are not the same as food intolerances or “picky eaters”.  For students with a food allergy, even the smallest amount of the allergen could trigger a reaction that may lead to death.  This reaction may include hives, itching, swelling of the face and hands, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, etc.  For food allergic students, any classroom activity, party, or reward that involves food is a potential for an allergic reaction.  Students may feel constant anxiety in situations involving food.  No one wants to experience an allergic reaction, especially not in front of peers.  Students may also fear of being excluded or appearing different from their peers and this can cause added stress.  The Teal Pumpkin Project, inspired by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), was created to promote ways to include all students.  Some steps you can take:
  1. Provide non-food treat options for rewards  (stickers, bouncy balls, pencils, plastic rings, etc)
  2. Place a teal pumpkin (the color of food allergy awareness) in office, classroom and front porch
  3. Spread the word about the Teal Pumpkin Project with friends and family
  4. Conduct non-food activities and classroom projects
For more information: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project or https://www.foodallergy.org/
Bethany Erb
School Counselor
Montgomery Central High School
Food Allergy Mom/Advocate

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