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School and Allergies

Who’s Watching Lunch?

In Ottawa, members of the Ottawa Anaphylaxis Support Group would be thrilled to have EAs keeping an eye on meals. On behalf of OASG, parent Scott McKenzie presented concerns to the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board about anaphylaxis procedures, stressing the safety issues with student lunch monitors.

The board conducted a review of several jurisdictions, and found EAs definitely a popular, if somewhat pricey option. This fall, the board will consider recommendations from this review.

McKenzie says something has to give on the subject. He and his wife have two daughters, the younger of whom, Taya, has multiple allergies including peanuts, nuts, dairy and eggs. At lunch one day, another child’s parent brought in a cake, and the monitors dished it out. Fortunately, 7-year-old Taya turned down her slice – saying she didn’t know what was in it.

“This seems like an accident waiting to happen,” says McKenzie of the level of supervision. “There is going to an accident with food, the monitors aren’t going to know what to do. Then people are going to say [to the school]: ‘how could you have let this happen?’”

It is the informed parents, like him, like Cameron, Posynick and the Pennsylvania mom who are trying to prevent “that” from happening. Through her lobbying efforts, Posynick was able to get adult lunch supervision for his son.

But it took being “a squeaky wheel” she says, reminding that you can’t assume; you need to ask for the facts before the kids pull out their lunchboxes.

With files from Colleen Seto

From Allergic Living magazine’s Fall 2009 issue.

See Fall 2010 update on Ottawa school board policy.
Also featured in Fall 09 issue: related article on
school lunch supervising policies in several cities.

To order that issue or to subscribe, click here.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.