Some of you wanted to know the wording of the letter the school sent to the parents of the other kids in Ainsley's kindergarten class to inform them of her allergies. I am retyping it below. It's a standard letter the school district has for food allergies. On the back, the letter has a list of foods that are safe for Ainsley so that parents can send those foods to school for snack time (a different child is assigned to bring snack for the entire class each day). Ainsley doesn't eat the snack that's brought - she eats her own snack (she picks from a box we sent that the teacher keeps in the classroom) - but we still wanted kids to bring only snacks that were safe for Ainsley since they eat snack in the classroom.
The letter (front side):
A student in your child's kindergarten class this year has a severe food allergy to peanuts, all tree nuts (cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios), sesame seeds, eggs, and milk. We are distributing this letter to the parents to help you understand this situation and to help foster a safe and worry-free year for this student and his/her parents.
This student's allergy can be life-threatening and the student carries an Epi-Pen at all times. We need your help in maintaining a nut-free, egg-free, and milk-free environment in the classroom and ask that any classroom snacks or treats that you send be nut-free, egg-free, and milk-free. The allergy can be triggered not only by directly eating or coming into contact with the above but also by exposure to foods that contain any peanut/nut traces, oils, flours, or food that is processed in a plant with peanuts, nuts, eggs, and milk or sesame seeds. For this reason, most pre-made cookies, prepared cookie dough, and cookie mixes are off limits. Also, many bakeries use nut products, flavorings, or oils in their facilities or products. if you are sending in any type of classroom treats, please notify the teacher in advance so that arrangements can be made to ensure the allergic student has a safe snack or treat.
We want you and your child to understand that the student's allergy can be triggered even by ingesting or exposure to very small amounts of the above allergens. I will talk with the students in the classroom to discuss ways they can help keep the classroom safe, such as always washing hands after lunch or snacks, not bringing snacks with these allergens, etc.
The school realizes that helping us to maintain a nut-free, egg-free, and milk-free classroom takes a certain amount of effort and diligence on your part, and we thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping us maintain a safe, healthy environment for all of our students. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the school.
[The school nurse]
This is a list of recommended snacks that are free of milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds. The list below is not exhaustive and there may be more options. Please note that it is important to read the label as manufacturers are required to list the eight major potential allergens in bold type in or after the ingredients list.
Raisins – plain only (not covered in anything else, like yogurt or chocolate)
Bagels – Thomas brand only (original, cinnamon/brown sugar, blueberry, & whole wheat
Ritz Crackers (Nabisco) -- Original, Whole Wheat, Honey Butter, Hint of Salt, or
Roasted Vegetable flavors only (no Ritz Bits please – Ainsley is allergic to all types of them)
Ritz Muchables Pretzel Thins (Nabisco) – buttery flavor only
Wheat Thins (Nabisco) – original flavor only
Triscuits (Nabisco) – original flavor or reduced fat original flavor only
Triscuits Thin Crisps (Nabisco) – original flavor only
Teddy Grahams (Nabisco) – honey, cinnamon, chocolate chip, and chocolate flavors only
Honey Maid Graham Crackers (Nabisco) – original, honey, or cinnamon flavors only
Saltines (Nabisco) – plain or multigrain flavors only
Premium Soup & Oyster Crackers (Nabisco) – original flavor only
Keebler Original Club Crackers – original or multigrain flavors only
Keebler Town House Crackers – original flavor only
Keebler Grahams Bug Bites
Keebler Scooby Doo Graham Cracker Sticks – cinnamon or honey flavors only
Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies (Nabisco)
Barnum’s Animals Crackers (Nabisco)
Ginger Snaps (Nabisco)
Rold Gold Pretzels (including thins, sticks, tiny twists) – plain flavor only
Rold Gold Braided Twists – honey wheat flavor only
Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks -- apple cinnamon flavor only
Good Health Natural Foods Veggie Sticks / Veggie Chips
Pirate’s Booty – veggie flavor only (not the kind coated in cheese)
Snapea Crisps (by Calbee Snack Salad) – plain flavor only
Sun Chips – original flavor only
Cheerios – plain and multigrain flavors only
Frosted Mini Wheats (Kelloggs) – original flavor only
Oreo Cookies – original kind only
Stacy’s Pita Chips – plain or cinnamon sugar flavored only
I would love to say that all of the parents have diligently paid attention to this snack list and sent only safe snacks, but in reality I think some of them didn't read the letter at all and I know that at least a few have sent things like string cheese that are clearly unsafe. There is really nothing I can do about that as this is all about voluntary compliance. I do think that the kindergarten teacher doesn't serve certain things if they are brought, like peanut butter crackers, because she knows how much we fear those foods in particular (she has a few back-up snacks in her classroom).
I have already had to send a reminder/clarification email to the class parents because at Meet the Teacher night Ainsley's teacher mentioned that she had a child with a peanut allergy in her class and didn't mention Ainsley's other allergies. Some of the later questions from parents made clear that they thought Ainsley had only a peanut allergy. My follow-up email is below:
Hi fellow class parents,
For those of you who attended Meet the Teacher last night, I wanted to clarify that my daughter, Ainsley, is severely allergic not only to peanuts, but also to tree nuts (such as cashews, walnuts, etc.), dairy, eggs, and sesame seeds. That is why the letter the school nurse sent home about Ainsley listed all of those items as allergens, and that is why the suggested snack list on the back of that letter listed only foods that do not contain any of those allergens (if any of you did not see the suggested snack list on the back of that letter and no longer have the letter handy, I'd be more than happy to send a copy of the list to you if you let me know). We feel it is important for the snacks the other kids eat not to contain any of her allergens because it is so easy for the residue from those snacks to get on everything in the classroom since it will be on all the children's hands and they often eat the snacks in class.
It is true, however, that at lunch Ainsley can sit by other kids who are eating dairy, eggs, and sesame - she just can't sit by kids eating things like peanut butter & jelly because those sandwiches can be messy and the peanut butter (or other tree nut butter) might get onto her eating surface. Thus, the teacher checks the other kids' lunches and puts kids who do not have peanuts/peanut butter or tree nuts/tree-nut butter in their lunch around Ainsley.
As for birthday celebrations and parties, we definitely don't mind if you send treats that contain dairy and eggs as this wouldn't be an everyday thing like snacks (and it is so hard to find tasty treats that don't contain dairy & eggs). We would, however, appreciate it if you would avoid sending treats with peanuts/tree nuts in them as we would like to keep peanut/tree-nut residue from the classroom because it as particularly potent in terms of setting off an allergic reaction. Ainsley will have her own separate treat on those days so do not worry about her being left out!
Thanks so much for your understanding, and please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.