Creating a Food Allergy Task Force
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What the Task Force Does
Our Task Force submitted recommendations to the superintendent for policy revisions and guidelines for protecting children with severe allergies. Those guidelines were implemented by all schools in the district the following year. (You can review these guidelines here.)
This implementation effort involved collaboration and cooperation between school administrators and school nurses. Nurses train all district staff on how to recognize symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to administer an epinephrine autoinjector.
The task force continues to meet approximately two to three times a year to evaluate how things are going in our schools and to provide support to members. The success of our task force in creating guidelines was used as a foundation for The Colorado Schoolchildren’s Asthma and Anaphylaxis Act of 2009. This act requires the Colorado State Board of Education to promulgate rules for the management of food allergies and anaphylaxis among students enrolled in public and charter schools in the state.
The task force recently hosted a Food Allergy Summit promoting awareness of life-threatening allergies and asthma. The keynote speaker was a physician in internal medicine, allergy and immunology, who is also an Anaphylaxis Community Expert (ACE). A panel discussion followed his remarks, providing perspectives from two students, one elementary and one high school, a principal and two teachers, a school nurse, a school attorney, the food services director, and a parent on how to keep severely allergic children safe in school.
More than 120 parents and students attended and the task force is committed to continuing efforts to raise awareness about the need to protect children with severe, life-threatening allergies in our schools.
Our school district was the first to create a Food Allergy Task Force. Since then, there have been at least two other districts in Colorado that have also created one. The result: more children with life-threatening food allergies are safe at school! Will a district in your state or province be next?
Nicole Smith runs the Allergicchild.com website and is the author of Allie the Allergic Elephant, Cody the Allergic Cow, and Chad the Allergic Chipmunk. Her teenage son Morgan has life-threatening peanut allergies. Nicole has helped school districts across the U.S. to create safe environments for food allergic children. In Colorado, Nicole was the driving force to get Senate Bill 09-226 introduced and passed into law, which requires school districts to have a policy to keep food allergic children safe at school. Nicole now serves on the Food Allergy Initiative’s advocacy steering committee.