CHARLES CITY, Iowa- School lunch means kids laughing and goofing around with their friends for most, but for some with a life-threatening allergy, it can be a scary situation.
“If you’ve ever ate in elementary school lunchroom you know that kids can’t keep their hands to themselves,” says Missy Freund, Riley Freund’s Mother.
Riley Freund is a 2nd grader in the Charles City School District who suffers from a life-threatening nut allergy. When the school decided they wanted to implement a policy Freund wanted her voice to be heard.
“To be honest, when this first came out, I went to the first meeting and I was upset. She said. “I was concerned that they were going to take away the no nut ban and they’re going to allow them in schools, but after going to meetings after talking to them at the members of the board and the policy committee, I felt like I was a part of the process.
Currently Charles City Schools doesn’t have a “Life-Threatening Allergy” policy in the books. There are signs in windows of a couple of the schools alerting folks that nuts are banned, but district officials say that is miss leading without a policy. The Charles City School Board has been working for the last year to try and bring clarity and education to the issue and also lifting the nut ban.
The potential policy would mean folks are not allowed to bring another other than commercial homemade goods to class. Substitute teachers, bus drivers and other school officials would be alerted if a student in their care suffered from a deadly allergy. Those who bring their own lunch may have to sit at designated table which would be cleaned and sanitized after every lunch hour. But most importantly, the school looks to educate folks on what a life-threatening allergy is an how to identify it, and it’s not just nut allergies.
“Some people are allergic to pineapples some people are allergic to tomatoes, chocolates, it can be specific to every kid,”says Karen Landers, the Charles City School Nurse. “We currently educate the staff on anaphylaxis, the signs and symptoms, how to use an EpiPen. We do that every single year for staff. If this gets passed we will be integrating that into the middle school have curriculum so the students will be able to identify those signs and symptoms.”
Freund says that the added benefit of education helpd convince her that the policy was a good idea.
“If someone has a nut allergy they might think it’s funny to taunt them with peanut butter or something like that, but they don’t realize we can actually happen if they’re exposed to it,” she says.
The Charles City School Board will be taking action on the policy at their next meeting.