July 22, 2011

Free Breakfast At School A Problem?

Wouldn’t it be great if schools provided breakfast for kids in the morning? Parents would not have to worry about waking up early to prepare their child’s lunch and breakfast. However, what if your child was allergic to certain types of food? Approximately 6% of children in the U.S have food allergies. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat are known as the ‘big eight’ due to the fact that they are common food allergies and account for 90% of food allergies.

However, in January, the Chicago board of education passed a mandate that required every elementary school to serve a free breakfast during the first 15 minutes of the day. Parents were quick to send their concerns and objections to the board due to the fear of children with allergies being exposed to life-threatening foods. For example, Nathan Sodolski, who is a first grader, would break out in hives or go to the emergency room just by having spilled milk or eggs on his desk. According to Dr. Kelly Newhall at the Chicago Family Asthma and Allergy medical practice, this is extremely risky for little kids because they are at the age where their hands are constantly in their mouths. Many parents suggest that they are on board for supporting feeding hungry kids but believe there are better alternatives to do so. So far, 1000 parents have signed the petition against breakfast being served in elementary schools.

So far an agreement has been reached to not serve peanut products at breakfast but parents are still upset that officials have planned for students to clean their desk rather than adults, which means that they will have to touch certain foods that they could be allergic too. This has increased the fears of many parents who have children with severe food allergies because they are at a greater risk. Dr Newhall stated that, “…25% of children who have no known food allergies have their first reaction at school.” This only adds to the worry of many parents.

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