Allergens/Special Diets

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is when the immune system mistakes a harmless food protein as a threat to the body and attacks it. The protective reaction of the immune system causes allergic symptoms.

What are the major food allergies?

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans

What are the symptoms of a food allergy?

Even the smallest amount of an allergen, that you can’t even see, can cause a reaction. Reactions can range from mild to life-threatening (anaphylaxis) and can change over time, making them hard to predict.

  • Itchy
  • Scratchy throat or ears
  • Rash or hives
  • Stomach pain, nausea or vomiting
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the mouth or difficulty swallowing
  • Trouble breathing or wheezing
  • Turning blue
  • Confusion, weakness, fainting, or loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain

How can I help keep myself and others safe?

  • Know how to read a food label. Read the ingredient list to look for allergens.
  • Ask if homemade items contain certain allergens, and inform restaurants of your allergy.
  • Be sure to thoroughly wash hands and surfaces before and after cooking and eating. Use different utensils, plates, and cutting boards while cooking to avoid cross-contamination.
  • It is important to be prepared for an attack. Physicians may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector in case of severe anaphylaxis. If someone has a reaction, it should be used as soon as possible, and call 911.
  • Know if friends or family members have food allergies, and know the warning signs.

Nutrition & Allergen Information

A binder of vendor product specifications, including nutritional, ingredient, and allergen information, for all items is available in the Food Service Director’s office as well as with the School Nurse.

In addition, our vendor provides a product lookup site to view product specifications online.  You may obtain product codes for menu items as well as the vendor lookup site through the Food Service Director.

Please note that occasional substitutions may be required due to vendor shortages or mandated commodity usage.  Proper documentation for students with dietary restrictions is important for communication of dietary changes among school faculty and staff.

Arbor Management managers and staff are trained in proper food handling, sanitation, and allergen management procedures.

Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) nondiscrimination regulation (7 CFR 15b), as well as the regulations governing the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, state that substitutions to the regular meal prepared for the general school population must be made for children who are unable to eat school meals because of their disabilities, when that need is certified by a licensed physician.  The Physician’s Statement for Food Substitution is required for documentation and must be signed by a licensed physician.  The statement must include:

  • The nature of the child’s disability
  • The reason the disability prevents the child from eating the regular school meal
  • The specific substitutions needed

The guidance is based on the policy guidelines outlined in the FNS Instruction 783-2, Revision 2, Meal Substitutions for Medical or Other Special Dietary Reasons.

Students or parents/guardians of students with severe life-threatening food allergens (food anaphylaxis) or special dietary needs due to disability are encouraged to schedule a menu review with the Food Service Director and School Nurse upon submitting the Physician’s Statement for Food Substitution.  If a request is not based on a disability signed by a recognized medical authority, it is at the district’s discretion whether or not they will accommodate the request per federal regulation.

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