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September 15, 2006

A Letter to Class Parents About Food Allergies

There is a general sigh of relief for all those parents who have sent their kids off to school. For those of us who have children with food allergies, sometimes the sigh is more of fear than liberation. We all have our own way of preparing the schools and helping them create a safe environment for our children. Over the years, I have learned new things and tweaked my process. Class parties seem to constantly present a challenge. I try to explain my child’s food allergy without seeming too over the top; because then other parents seem to disregard what I say. Below is a letter I recently sent out to my child’s class. It is in a generic form. Feel free to copy it word for word, or change it around a bit to fit your style. I hope this helps.

Dear Parents of Mrs. Smith's class,

My name is Sally and I am Jane Doe's mom. You might have heard from your son or daughter that Jane has food allergies. She is in fact allergic to peanuts, tree nuts (which are the rest of the nuts like walnuts and almonds), and a few other foods. Mrs. Smith has been great in keeping our classroom environment safe for Jane. Jane has a snack bag at school which she can choose a treat from if the class is eating something she cannot have.

In regards to our class parties, we would greatly appreciate it if the treats people bring in do not contain nuts or peanuts (i.e. peanut butter crackers, cookies with nuts, peanut M & M’s). We also have a son with food allergies; and over the years, friends and classmates' parents have offered to make or buy something that is "allergy free." Although we so much appreciate that, we find that the safest thing for Jane is that she just eat the food we bring from home. Truly, if nut-free cookies are baked on the same cookie sheet after a nut-containing or peanut butter cookie was baked, and Jane ate one, that could be enough to set off an allergic reaction. In the same regard, if Jane eats Oreos at one party and a parent brings a package of Oreos to the next party, the ingredients could have changed without a warning statement to contain an ingredient to which Jane is allergic. This is why I hesitate to give a list of "safe" treats, because we never know when ingredients might change. To avoid accidental exposure to an allergen, I will either send in a treat for Jane that is similar to what everybody else is eating, or she can simply choose something from her snack bag.

I will most likely be in contact with the parent in charge of a party to see what's on the menu. That way I can decide party by party what will work for Jane. And please do not feel sorry for Jane. It has always been her way of life, and it is something she accepts (most of the time with a smile on her face!).

Thank you all very much for your understanding. I am very approachable if you have questions or concerns. I check email frequently, (insert email address here) or you can call me at home, (123) 456-7890.

Thanks again,
Sally Doe

Posted by Ann Marie at September 15, 2006 8:51 AM