Parties, Snacks and Lunch

Foods at school have become a curriculum of their own.  Consider:  Foods that cause students to suffer anaphylaxis, nutritious but high calorie foods, low fat foods, religious observation foods, no food only non-edible celebration items, foods expressly prohibited by Board Policy 8505 (see download below or handbook/calendar) and NJ Statute all have supporters and detractors.  These are adult arguments, strongly presented...sometimes divisive...and sometimes at odds with a child who just wants to feel special and celebrate with friends. Few societal practices have changed as dramatically in the past 30 years as food celebrations at school.

Birthday celebrations are a special joy and a special problem.  While we celebrate the growth of children, we are first responsible for their safety.  At Mountain View, are several dozen students with food allergies, some life threatening.  During each year, a few do "grow through" their allergies but more are diagnosed.  We notify parents of allergy issues in their child's Homeroom class through our school nurse's classroom letter,

Peanut allergies (contact, ingested and airborne) are a fact of life that precludes a student, bringing (into a peanut free classroom)  snack or celebration foods that contain nuts or were processed in a facility that processes nuts.  These foods can be brought into the cafeteria if they are "contained" and consumed at a table that is a "peanut table."

Mountain View is unique as a school that allows food celebrations.  We hope to continue that practice but that depends upon the parent providers. Parents must bring ingredient lists for formal approval.  Formal approval includes communication with parents of the children in the classroom with allergies.This requires the form (will be placed in download section) to go home to the students who have allergies so appropriate plans can be prepared.   The responsibility for accurate representation of ingredients is on the parent (advance requests to our nurse must be made 2 full school days before delivery) who brings the food.

MV students typically celebrate birthdays during the morning snack time. IF a parent brings an unapproved food item, their child may partake of it but the class will not.  The child will be able to consume the item in the classroom unless it is a peanut free room... in which case, the food may only be consumed in the cafeteria. Our School Nurse and the Homeroom Teacher will be a great resource for the responsible parent and, past history bears out that student safety will be enhanced.

Please know we reject foods if we are not certain of their ingredients.  Also know that the same product can be manufactured in differrent plants....some are nut free....some are not.  Read every package's ingredient list very carefully.  Parents who need more information may want to visit this website clickon DEPARTMENTS click on" School Nurse" for lists of websites and extensive food suggestions for "safe and healthy" foods for school.

Mountain View has a professional assembly (sponsored by the FPTA) to educate the children and Mountain View staff talk with students about allergies and healthy food choices in our Health/PE class.  Our FPTA tries to coordinate our recognition activities with the week designated by the Great State of New Jersey as Food Allergy Awareness Week.

MV has peanut free tables in the cafeteria.  Those will continue to be available.  Our staff is careful to disinfect the cafeteria tables following each lunch with these tables receiving special attention.  An information letter regarding the cafeteria program in Mt. Olive Schools is provided below in the download section.

But that is not enough for the safety of students.  All of us have a personal responsibility for hand washing with soap to ensure that nut (tree and ground) residue does not remain on on hands, etc.  Contact allergies are an issue that hand sanitizers will not address.  I, personally, have to remember that eating a "granola bar" and leaves residue on my hands as does eating any of the donut balls from commerical production that are processed in a store that will not guarentee peanut free food items.  While i would never knowingly give sugar items to a diabetic student, nor knowingly serve food that could hurt a student... the dangers of peanut or other high-incident allergens have been a part of a steep learning curve for me. IF you want to read of an incident that has made national headlines, I have uploaded an article from  a trusted site....it is tragic and no parent will read it without feeling the pain of a preventable event...and a resolve to provide treats that are safe.  Your personal attention to safety is significant and necessary. This is especially important if a child is bringing and consuming foods that contain or are processed in facilities where nuts are processed.  Please read the labels.

Non-allergy snacks that are nutritious are always welcome as the students are able to enjoy them in the classrooms before lunch.

Guidance for safe snacks http://snacksafely.com  

Thanks for your diligence and continued cooperation.

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