Mom’s PSA Educates Parents On Why A 'Peanut Free Table' At School Isn't Enough

Parents of children with food allergies, especially peanut allergies know the anxiety that comes with sending their children to school, especially if their child’s school isn’t peanut-free. Schools that aren’t designated “peanut-free” have tables that are peanut-free for children who suffer from life-threatening allergies to eat at during lunch and snack, but, as one mom points out, that often isn’t enough to keep these children safe.

Mom Stephanie Peterson recently took to Facebook to explain just how deadly peanut allergies can be and why having simply a peanut-free table in the lunchroom isn’t enough to keep her daughter safe. The post is accompanied by a picture of Peterson’s kindergarten-age daughter Stella as she lays in a hospital bed, being monitored to ensure a recent allergic reaction she suffered at school was under control.

“We are on the fourth day of kindergarten, and on Day 3, someone brought peanut butter pretzels to the peanut-free table, forcing Stella to be sent to the nurse’s office, away from her friends, to be monitored while she finished her lunch,” Peterson wrote in the post. But it wasn’t that incident that caused her daughter to be sent to the hospital.

“Today, Day 4, Stella came in from lunch recess, and she was flushed and lethargic,” Peterson wrote. “Her teacher was concerned and took her to the nurse. By the time she got there, her face and tongue were covered in hives, and her throat was itchy. They called me and administered epi. If they had waited any longer, her throat probably would have closed up.”

This is my PSA about why telling Stella “just don’t eat peanut butter” or “just have her sit at a peanut-free table”...

Posted by Stephanie Peterson on Monday, August 26, 2019

Peterson explained that her daughter never eats anything that wasn’t sent to school by her parents, so her reaction was most likely the result of something another child had brought to school. “This most likely happened because someone else sent a peanut butter sandwich to school with their child, who then touched something that Stella touched, which caused a reaction,” she wrote. “If someone eats peanuts, and then plays on the same playground that Stella is on, she (and any other allergic kids) are at risk. We realize that we can’t live in a bubble and that the world isn’t going to stop for her, but we just want her to be able to breathe,”

Thankfully, Stella is doing OK, but her mother fears that having such a reaction will cause Stella some fear and anxiety about returning to school. After all, she took all the precautions possible as a child with a deadly food allergy, yet she still ended up in the hospital. Peterson wrote that she understands that some children are picky eaters and some have sensory issues as well, but she’s imploring parents to not send peanut items to school out of consideration for those who do have deadly allergies.

Two boys in the background talking during their lunch break in a school's classroom. Girls in the front, blurred.
Credit: iStock

The worried mom edited her post to add that she knows that all allergens can’t be banned, but peanut products are especially deadly since they tend to linger. She asked parents to educate their children if they feel the need to send them to school with peanut products. “Hand sanitizer DOES NOT kill peanut proteins. Thoroughly washing with soap and water is the only way to remove peanut protein. If you absolutely must send peanuts with your kids, please ask them to go to the restroom and wash well with soap and water before they touch anything,” she wrote.

She also asked parents not to feed their children peanut products while at local parks, and to send in non-food treats to celebrate milestones at school. Peterson understands that it can be a lot for parents to have to find new foods to send for their children to school, but for her, it’s not about having a picky eater, it’s about life and death.

“At the end of the day, I just want my baby to be alive.”

That doesn’t really seem to be too much to ask.

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