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Food Allergy: Back-to-School Tips

Back-to-School Tips:  Food Allergies in Elementary School-Aged Children

For children with food allergies, returning to school can be a time of concern and even fear for the child as well as their parents.  A food allergic reaction can be potentially severe and is called anaphylaxis. A smooth transition into school can be accomplished by developing a coordinated, pro-active plan with the school and your physician.  He is a short checklist:

Meet with the teacher, principal, school nurse, and food service coordinator.

  • Identify the food(s) that need to be avoided and review the symptoms of the child’s allergic reaction
  • Discuss avoidance of the particular food(s; for example: no food sharing, use a placemat where only safe foods can be.  A separate table is not usually necessary for older children.
  •  Identify “safe” and “unsafe” foods; if age appropriate, teach how to read a food label.
  • Have a plan for cafeteria, classroom, bus, and other school-sponsored activities
  • Have clearly labeled “safe snacks” available for the child
  • Send a sack lunch or meet with food service personnel to review menus to identify “safe meals” and discuss “cross contamination” through using common utensils.
  • Review the correct use and indications of the self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPenTM) and discuss the location of the epinephrine so it is immediately available if needed.
  • Identify if your child has asthma as this increases the risk for a severe food reaction

Provide the school with a Food Allergy Action Plan signed by your doctor; see

  • Contains information on symptoms of an allergic reaction, when and how to use medications, contact information, photo, and follow up.

Provide school with self-injectable epinephrine (EpiPenTM or EpiPen, Jr. TM based on child’s weight); check expiration date.

Provide child with medical identification as a bracelet, necklace or other form. They come in various styles and colors.  There are many places these can be obtained.  Our daughter is very happy with the bracelet from Lauren’s Hope (

Check with your allergist….he/she may be willing to give a presentation to your school or classroom.  I’m willing and available— just ask!

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. 

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