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What does your child do at lunchtime in school?

(14 Posts)
freefrommum Wed 20-Jul-11 15:43:15

My DS starts school in Sept and is severely allergic to milk, wheat, egg and nuts. I'm meeting with the school nurse and Reception staff tomorrow afternoon to talk about his allergies and how to manage them. I've made lots of notes to take with me but the bit I'm not sure how to deal with is lunchtime. I really like the guidelines on the foodallergymums website EXCEPT the options for lunchtimes - I don't like any of them! I don't want my son to sit on his own, the school obviously can't exclude all of his allergens (they do exclude nuts) and I can't use the buddy system as I can't expect even a small number of children to bring in packed lunches free from milk, wheat and egg! So, I was wondering what your children do at lunchtime to avoid reactions. DS is touch allergic to milk and egg so it is a tricky one. I was thinking about asking them to sit him with the same 2 or 3 children each day but making sure he has plenty of space around him and also that the children are reminded regularly about not swapping food or touching/kissing DS during lunch/snack times until they've washed their hands and faces (I know from experience that a chocolatey kiss is all it takes to cause a reaction!).

mintyneb Wed 20-Jul-11 20:07:18

hi freefrommum, your post has reminded me that I said I would give you an update on how I got on with DDs school.

DD is only allergic to milk (although possibly nuts as well) so a bit easier than you but the following are the main points that came out of my meeting.

The school does not routinely offer milk to reception children but if any are left over from the nursery it would be brought into the reception classes. There are two classes in each year group so the first suggestion was that a 'milk bar' could be set up in the other classroom so that DD wouldn't have to come into contact with it. Then DDs teacher said 'yes but if it was a nut product we would ban it' (they have a nut ban in place at the school). The assistant head said straight away 'well no milk will come into reception, we will give any left overs to Yr 1 instead'. Great, problem solved! the only issue is that DD drinks a couple of cartons of flavoured soya milk a day (if nothing else for the calcium) but the school are happy for her to drink chocolate soya milk whislt everyone else will have to get by on water!

As to lunch, I know of a couple of children who are dairy intolerant who will be in her year and so I suggested the 'buddy system' whereby any children not having dairy in their lunch could sit together. We would obviously have more to gain as like your DS, DD reacts on contact but I would have thought the other parents might be reasonably OK with the idea. The senco vetoed it on the grounds that the school has an inclusion policy and having an 'allergy table' would not be very inclusive!

So their plans are for DD to sit at the end of a table in the main dining hall. There are always adults in there so one will set next to her and they will try and put milk 'sensitive' children near her. The Reception children go in for lunch first so the tables should be clean.

I guess for now I am OK with what they have suggested but will keep an eye on things once term is underway.

I took plenty of notes with me to the meeting including hard copies of the anaphylaxis campaign's protocol and Allergy UKs protocol as I'd heard from a friend that the school didn't have anything formal in place. I suggested that they might want to draw up something similar.

I also gave them a sheet outlining DDs allergy(s) and how she reacts and how I would expect her to be treated. I will see what they have drawn up when September comes

good luck with your meeting and I hope the school can meet your requests in a way that can work for you

freefrommum Wed 20-Jul-11 20:45:07

Thanks mintyneb that's really helpful. Here in Wales all key stage 1 kids ie reception, yr 1 & 2 get given free milk so pretty difficult to avoid! Will have to see what they come up with tomorrow. I'm even taking a video from the Anaphylaxis Campaign for the staff to watch during Inset days. I'll let u know how it goes

youarekidding Wed 20-Jul-11 21:01:17

I have some lovely 'sheets' of information (on anaphylaxis), and plan of actions etc from our community nurse. I am sending copies into juniors as DS starts in September.

I would be happy to copy and send to any MN who would like them.

Does the school update their training yearly? My DS school have said they'll include me so I can get refreshers and also we can look at any changes we may need to make to plans. I have suggested they could open it up to all parents of allergic children and they are looking into it. Would your DS school do the same?
More heads are better than 1.

freefrommum Thu 21-Jul-11 18:36:44

Well, the meeting went pretty well. I wasn't very impressed with the school nurse tbh but the Head and Reception teacher were great. We've agreed a similar thing to you mintyneb, my DS will sit on the end of one of the tables at lunchtime with one empty seat next to him to give him room to eat his food without coming into contact with anyone else's. A member of staff will help him to open his packed lunch (making sure their hands are clean and not touched anyone else's food!) and keep an eye on him. They've arranged to get straws for the other children to drink their free bottles of milk as apparently pulling off the tops causes lots of spillages so I thought that was a good idea from the staff - shows they're trying to think on the right lines! We've also agreed that for the first few weeks they might have to ring me quite a few times to check with me about any concerns eg any itching or rashes as it will take them a little while to get used to what's 'normal' for DS. It's not always easy to tell them difference between his eczema and the start of a bout of hives so I'm happy for them to ring me until they're sure what to look for.

youarekidding yes, the school nurse does do 'refresher' talks every year so I will ask if I can go along to those to check the plans and make any necessary changes.

eragon Mon 25-Jul-11 10:47:51

sounds good so far with the school, can i suggest that you send in a photo stuck to a list of his allergies?
one for the kitchen , even if he doesnt eat the food their , a midday supervisor esp a new one, can see the photo and recognize your child, and the allergies.

put another in the school office or first aid room.

I found this very useful for my son, and when i used to work in a school, as i was able to see the faces of the many kids with health problems and keep a closer eye on them.

freefrommum Mon 25-Jul-11 11:50:42

Thanks eragon yes, the school already operate this policy so there will be a photo of DS in the office and one in the kitchen. DD1 who goes to the same school told me excitedly quite a while ago that he'd have his photo in the office! It's also quite a small community school so it won't be long before everybody will know who he is I'm sure.

mintyneb Tue 26-Jul-11 20:49:13

sounds like the meeting went well, glad to hear the school are thinking on their feet.

Did you agree a plan for when they are doing play activities/cooking in class involving your DS's allergens? Luckily for my DD all of the touchy feely activities involve things like dry pasta, grains, foam etc which she shouldn't react to - touch wood, I don't take anything for granted these days!

I forgot to say that I agreed with my DDs teacher that she will keep a goody bag in the class containing dairy free treats (that I will obviously provide) to give out to DD whenever its a childs birthday and they bring in sweets/chocolate to school. hopefully the other parents in her class will get the message though and only bring in haribo type sweets on birthdays

freefrommum Wed 27-Jul-11 09:02:18

We did talk about activities involving food and thankfully (so far at least) DS doesn't appear to be touch allergic to wheat, it's only if he eats it that he reacts. This means that he can still play with homemade playdough and make collages with dry pasta, as long as he doesn't decide to put some in his mouth hmm. We agreed that the teacher would contact me in advance about any other activities involving food so that I can organise an alternative. The school has a strict healthy eating policy so children are not allowed to bring in cakes/sweets/biscuits etc only fruit so no need for an 'alternative treats' box.

whenwillisleepagain Sun 21-Aug-11 21:21:51

I just wanted to say how useful I found this thread. My DS is allergic to nuts, eggs and fish and starts Reception in September. I've had an initial conversation with his form teacher and the teacher who supervises lunch. Further discussions to follow in early Sept. Life at nursery has been largely incident-free for the last three years, but there were several staff there who were really vigilant and the cook gradually got the hang of catering for DS. I thought I was reasonably relaxed about him going to school, but last night I had the hugest anxiety dream - that DS was a baby and coming up in huge red marks all over while I watched powerless. Uh, so maybe not that relaxed after all. It will be interesting to see how the various Reception-starters get on. Good luck if I don't post again before the beginning of term.

UniS Sat 03-Sep-11 23:04:11

Just read this thread with interest. I work in a primary school as an MTA ( dinner lady) supervising pack lunch or school dinners across all years. Can I ask you to Please Update your child's allergy list AND photo at the start of every year. If possible with a pic of child in school uniform.

As an MTA who does "cover" duty I find it very hard sometimes to work out which is "Jack" in year 3 from the head and shoulders photo of Jack age 5. Even worse if there is another "jack" in the class. Over a week I might work in 4 different rooms supervising 200 children, if "jack" isn't a trouble maker I may not reliably know who he is by sight alone.

Handily at present in our school the 2 xxx intolerant school dinner eaters are in the same class and have unique names.

freefrommum Wed 28-Sep-11 17:12:55

Update: After meeting with the dietician and school cook we agreed that DS2 could have school dinners on Wednesdays and Thursdays each week with some tweaking of the standard menus. It's always roast dinner on Weds so that was quite easy, just different gravy and no milk/butter in the mash. DD1 is coeliac so we have different arrangements for her but Wednesdays are good for her too. All gone OK so far (despite me being terrified the first time DS has dinners) but then today is all went pear shaped sad Had phone call in work at half 9 this morning from school cook to say they had no hot water as brand new boiler had packed up (not sure why this affects cooking but there must be a reason hmm) so they could only offer sandwiches this lunchtime. Obviously sandwiches are out of the question for my 2 so I was then faced with my kids having no lunch at all! DH was away in Bristol for the day so I had to leave work, drive all the way home, make packed lunches, take them to school then drive back to work - grr!!! It's a good job I work flexible hours and have a very understanding employer! Not sure I can be bothered with school dinners anymore after this. What if I'd been in a meeting or working further afield (as I sometimes do)? Why is life so bloody complicated!!!

babybarrister Thu 29-Sep-11 07:16:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mintyneb Thu 29-Sep-11 09:43:40

oh that's a pain freefrom. i guess it shows that no matter how much we think we've got the situation covered, there's always going to be something out the blue to catch us out. As BB says, hopefully they can put some sort of plan B into place so that the next time something happens at least your DC will have something to eat.
good luck

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