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Pickets for Peanuts?
Posted By Kim Shiffman On 2011/03/25 @ 11:38 am In Peanut Allergy | 3 Comments
Update (March 29): The parents of the 6-year-old respond to this story. See “Comments” section below.
On March 9, parents of children enrolled at Edgewater Public School near Daytona Beach, Florida, called the media and staged a protest, angry that an allergy-management plan implemented by the school board to keep a 6-year-old peanut-allergic girl safe could take away from their children’s learning time – and that the child should stay home instead.
The events have galvanized the allergic community and underscore the importance of educating those who do not understand the challenges of daily living with a food allergy.
The new safety procedures
According to news reports, the allergy-management plan includes the following policies and procedure:
Allergy-management plans like this one are poised to become the norm. Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA), which calls for voluntary national guidelines to help schools manage students with food allergies.
In the past decade alone, the prevalence of food allergy, once an uncommon condition, has skyrocketed.  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) estimates that about 12 million Americans – 4 percent of the population – now contend with the disease. The Canadian rate of food allergy is estimated to be comparable. Peanut allergy alone has doubled in young American kids.
Some parents of students enrolled at the elementary school argue that:
Parents are also up in arms about a peanut-sniffing dog that was brought into the school over spring break.
“You can’t take peanut butter and jelly – or any right – away from my child,” yelled one angry protester to the mother of another peanut-allergic child at the school. “Keep your child at home!”
Along with the protest, which has been covered by local and international media, the parents have been handing out flyers to the community.
What the school board says
The school board argues that:
The allergy community’s response
Not surprisingly, the allergy community has been watching the situation closely.
On March 23, FAAN and the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) released a joint statement  that highlighted the need for increased education about the challenges of living with a food allergy. The organizations also expressed concern about the psychological impact of the protests on the first grader: “Studies have shown that living with a life-threatening food allergy can have a psychological impact, and a public display in this manner may have a detrimental effect on children with food allergies.”
Parents of children with food allergies are also expressing their views on the Florida events. “Here we sit, on a fence, between a rock and a hard place, because of unawareness and ignorance,” says a member of the Allergic Living Forum . “How much noise to make to keep our kids safe is such a hard question.”
“The [protesting] parents definitely took it too far,” says another Forum member. “If their concerns weren’t being addressed, they themselves could have contacted FAAN to see if they could recommend a compromise. Picketing and protesting one child is insane.”
The Allergic Living Facebook page  has also received a lot of feedback on the issue. “It interests me that the main complaint from protesting parents is that hand and mouth washing takes away from education time,” says one of Allergic Living’s fans. “Handwashing is a normal and accepted way of cleaning yourself after eating, so I am baffled as to why parents would not want thier kids to learn the importance of that. Further, kids will learn about community support for the safely and wellbeing of people who live, play, learn and eat within their community.”
As well, members of the community are showing support on the Facebook page here  for the family of the child who is at the middle of this allergy battle.
Posted March 28, 2011
Article printed from Allergic Living: http://allergicliving.com
URL to article: http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2011/03/25/pickets-for-peanuts/
URLs in this post:
 Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act : http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2011/01/12/qa-faama-school-allergy-law/
 skyrocketed.: http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/11/20/allergies-why-so-many-now/
 general health and wellness reasons: http://allergicliving.com/index.php/2010/07/02/food-allergy-food-in-the-class-pt-1/
 one report: http://www.parentdish.com/2011/03/23/peanut-allergy-protest-a-misunderstanding-florida-school-dist/
 joint statement: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/florida-food-allergy-school-protest
 Allergic Living Forum: http://allergicliving.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=6460
 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Allergic-Living/6974884797
 here: https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_147133302017093
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