Food Allergies in the Classroom

Students With Food Allergies

Allergies are serious! I write this post as both a teacher and a parent of a child with a serious food allergy. My daughter was given the very food she was allergic to more than once at her previous school! She was two and three years old and not able to advocate for herself. It's a very scary thing to see your child with hives or facial swelling. There has been a significant increase in allergies, so there is a very good chance you currently have or will have a student with a food allergy in your classroom. I'm including some tips below and even more on the FREE STUDENT ALLERGY FORMS you can find in my store. 

1. Communicate with parents. Get as much information as you can. Use the PARENT FORM  I've included to not only determine what the food allergy is, but also get some examples of food items that may contain this item. There are hidden ingredients in many foods. Never assume. Always check labels. Parents will also be able to provide a list of items that are safe for their child. Communicate with the school nurse as well and discuss epi pen procedures. 

2. Educate yourself about the allergy. My daughter is allergic to dairy but a baked potato chip sent her to the emergency room. Yep! Who would have thought that a baked potato chip would contain dairy?  I sure didn't, and I check labels on everything. Turns out it was covered in whey protein. Lesson learned! Chocolate also contains milk, which most people don't realize. Again, never assume. For some of our kids, even trace amounts of a food can result in a serious life-threatening reaction. 

3. Make sure ALL school personnel are aware of the allergy. YOU might be diligent, but others may need reminders. Two of the times my daughter's allergy was ignored was with a sub. That is not an excuse. The school should have a system in place in the absence of the teacher. A student shouldn't just be safe most of the time, they need to be safe ALL of the time. 

4. Make a "SAFE SNACK BAG" for the student and keep it on hand. Ask parents to provide some safe snacks so that in the event a snack is brought to school that is not safe for them, you have a back-up.

5. Talk to your class about allergies. There are many books and  even some great FREE educational videos on allergies.  Have an open discussion. Teach them about not sharing food, washing hands, and what to look for if a student is having a reaction. Keep the nurse's extensions right next to your phone and let your students know what to do. 

6. Send home a parent letter letting them know there is an allergy in your class. 

7. Explain to parents that they need to consult with the teacher prior to bringing foods into school.

8. When you have a class party or celebration, consider the allergies in your room. Don't let one or two kids have to sit and watch the rest of the class enjoy a treat that they are unable to eat. Think of alternatives ahead of time and check with parents. I bet they would be happy to bring something in or help come up with ideas of treats that all of your students can enjoy.

Be prepared and ensure your classroom is a safe place. I hope these forms help!

Please note: These are only suggestions as you should always follow your school or district policy regarding student allergies. 


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