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Multiple Severe Allergies + School Won't Allow Packed Lunches?
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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 16:52

Hello,

Please could I get some help/guidance?

My daughter has multiple severe allergies (Anaphylaxis) to:
-eggs
-nuts
-peanuts
-dairy
-sesame
-lentil
-penicillin

She is due to start primary school this sept, she will be joining Reception. I've spoken to a senior member of staff at the school regarding my daughters allergies and they have informed me that they do not allow packed lunches. They seem very adamant about this..

Last year at her first nursery (who also banned packed lunch), they made a mistake and gave her dairy cheese which resulted in my daughter having a severe reaction and nearly dying. Obviously after all of this I want to avoid anything like this ever happening again. She's 4 years old and she trusts any adult that helps her, I want to provide her safe food from home and eliminate anyone 'giving' her food that could potentially cause her harm... It's a large school with 90 children in Reception so I just want to reduce the risks as much as possible but I feel like I'm fighting against the school and getting no where.

The staff member made a flippant comment that "it's like opening your door and being hit by a bus, you just never know what will happen" which is NOT the same as suffering from multiple severe allergies. I feel really alone in dealing with this and wondering if anyone has experienced anything similar?

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 16:55

Sorry I forgot to mention I did dig up a letter from her allergy doc which states that "we agreed with her mother that homemade packed lunches might be the best option for her" - do you think this letter will help? Can the school argue with a letter like this from a doc?

Ive also called Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis charity who have offered to talk to the school. They said they have never heard of anything like this before. I can't seem to find anything on the gov website to state that by law she can bring packed lunches.

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Toddlerteaplease · 07/06/2022 16:59

You'd think that with multiple allergies as severe as hers. The school would be begging you to end packed lunches!

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becausetrampslikeus · 07/06/2022 17:01

My niece had a bad reaction to a school meal that was served to her in error because the cook didn't think the small amount would matter

And when staff change / go on sick they might not be aware of which child has a problem

Yes the letter should help - point out the medic is advising packed lunches so if they refuse to allow it they are disregarding medical advice

it then means it does not open any flood gates - only children with a previously diagnosed condition and a medical statement/ recommendation would be allowed packed lunches

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Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:03

This is a reasonable adjustment for disability. Push them more firmly - it's absolutely unreasonable for them to say no. You have every right to insist on this for your DD's safety.

(Adult with multiple allergies and anaphylaxis, though I don't have DC.)

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Palebluelily · 07/06/2022 17:03

The school needs to take your concerns seriously and it's hard to believe their stance on this. Most schools have robust policies concerning allergies.
You should speak to the headteacher, and if you get no proper response, go to the governors.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:04

That's what you would think 😂but no this school is very adamant that everyone eats school meals. I believe it might be one of their core values as they are very much into 'eating together' and they have a 'family style' menu where kids help themselves to food on tables.

But this won't apply to my daughter as she will be on a separate table anyway...with a special tray so I don't understand why she can't just eat her packed lunch 😫

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Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:05

You need to tell them that allergies are a disability and you are specifically informing them that this is a reasonable adjustment.

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urrrgh46 · 07/06/2022 17:07

I would approach this from a disability point of view and special educational need. When a child has a special educational need or disability (schools use a wide view of what a disability is and no actual dx is required eg a child with asthma is disabled if the asthma disadvantages the child in relation to other children or how the child can participate in school) then they are REQUIRED BY LAW to make Reasonable adjustments for that child in order for them to participate fully int he education on offer. So I would argue that you providing a suitable lunch for her is a REASONABLE adjustment for her disability of severe allergy. I think you're entirely right NOT to trust the school to never make a mistake.

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Beees · 07/06/2022 17:07

They can't legally enforce this what happens when she no longer gets free school meals are you all expected to pay?

If they are being difficult I would honestly just be telling them she's having a packed lunch and that's the end of the conversation. Personally I'm amazed they have never had push back on this nonsensical insistance they have to all eat the same hot meal.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:07

Palebluelily · 07/06/2022 17:03

The school needs to take your concerns seriously and it's hard to believe their stance on this. Most schools have robust policies concerning allergies.
You should speak to the headteacher, and if you get no proper response, go to the governors.

So I did speak to the deputy head teacher today, she wants me to come in and see their polices and procedures about allergies and see how they run lunch time. I'm not trying to be awkward but nothing she says or shows me will change my mind after what happened last time. Her last nursery had procedures in place too and it just took a human error to nearly kill my child.

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urrrgh46 · 07/06/2022 17:09

Does you're DD have and EHCP? If so ask for an emergency review and get it written into the EHCP that you provide any food/drink your DD consumes.

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maddy68 · 07/06/2022 17:10

I would ask to see their risk.assessment and an absolute guarantee that any allergen will not get into her possession.
Request it in writing
Or they can allow you send in a packed lunch which you know is safe.

I understand why they don't allow them too.

You also need to be realistic that someone will give her something whether she takes packed lunch or not

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:11

urrrgh46 · 07/06/2022 17:07

I would approach this from a disability point of view and special educational need. When a child has a special educational need or disability (schools use a wide view of what a disability is and no actual dx is required eg a child with asthma is disabled if the asthma disadvantages the child in relation to other children or how the child can participate in school) then they are REQUIRED BY LAW to make Reasonable adjustments for that child in order for them to participate fully int he education on offer. So I would argue that you providing a suitable lunch for her is a REASONABLE adjustment for her disability of severe allergy. I think you're entirely right NOT to trust the school to never make a mistake.

I think this is a good idea to approach it from the disability angle, I'm not too sure if she understands the severity of her allergies as I found the 'hit by the bus' comment really insensitive.

She says there is only one child in the whole school who has packed lunches and he is a non verbal autistic boy who refuses to eat anyone else's food...surely my daughter has a medical reason why school meals are not suitable as well. She was quick to point out there any many kids with allergies at the school and they manage them fine, but this is MY child and I'm not willing to see how it goes

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Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:14

It's actually great they've already made one exception. That shows they will if pressured enough. You can get this exception made for your DD too.

A lot of kids have allergies but not all allergies are equally severe.

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Beees · 07/06/2022 17:14

She says there is only one child in the whole school who has packed lunches and he is a non verbal autistic boy who refuses to eat anyone else's food...surely my daughter has a medical reason why school meals are not suitable as well. She was quick to point out there any many kids with allergies at the school and they manage them fine, but this is MY child and I'm not willing to see how it goes

The fact another child also has packed lunch is definitely helpful but again I'm honestly amazed he's the only one. Where is this school where everyone can afford school dinners? I suspect when you dig deeper there will be more children having a packed lunch and I also suspect they have never had a child with quite so many severe common allergies.

I'd be asking her what the current menu provides for her to eat. I suspect there are many days she can't eat anything on the menu.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:14

I'm sure like the first nursery once there has been a 'mistake' and they see first hand how dangerous it is for her they will backtrack and say ok bring a packed lunch. But I am not willing to go through this all again and let my child suffer just because of a policy.

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handmademitlove · 07/06/2022 17:15

I would ask them if they can 100% guarantee that all food served to her will be free of all allergens? How do they ensure mistakes are not made? They will not be able to make that assurance due to the possibility of human error. I would also, if I was being particularly difficult, ask if they have discussed the issue with their insurers? Then ask them to put everything in writing. Then contact the school nursing team for your area and discuss it with them. I would also ask about food used in class as part of the curriculum - this is where my children were given the wrong foods. Because the classroom staff were not trained in the same way as the lunch staff. So asking my DS if he eats porridge at home and him saying yes meant they gave him porridge. Except it wasn't the gluten free / dairy free version we fed him..... Ask to see the policies on managing allergies within school. Ask who will be trained in epipen use. Ask where they will be stored - because in the school office locked safely out of reach when the keyholder cannot be found is not a good answer!

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Lentil63 · 07/06/2022 17:17

Go to your GP and ask them to write to the school too. Is it a state school? I suppose an independent school could argue that you were aware of the rules but they would also be very aware of litigation.
Write to the school yourself and set out exactly what your daughter is allergic to and the consequences of her coming into contact with these foods. Ask for reassurance that the school will 100% guarantee that she will not be exposed to these allergens, that they accept responsibility if she does and can ensure that there will be a person trained to administer her Epi-pen at all times.
They are being ridiculous and must surely relent. I hope you let us know the outcome. Good luck!
PS
My granddaughter who is vegan and lactose intolerant was given milk at school, you are right to be concerned.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:20

Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:14

It's actually great they've already made one exception. That shows they will if pressured enough. You can get this exception made for your DD too.

A lot of kids have allergies but not all allergies are equally severe.

I'm hoping this plus my letter from the doc will build a strong enough case, but so far I'm honestly feeling like they are discriminating my child.

I will go in to see their lunch process as I think that will show I'm being open minded and fair but I will be pointing out all the potentials hazards along the way and concluding that I don't feel comfortable.

Today when I spoke to the deputy i said i would prefer packed lunches where I know the food is safe. Her counter argument was that: "someone could tamper with her lunchbox and make it not safe"...i replied that i think the chances of that are quite low and theres much more of a chance of something going wrong in her kitchen. No mater what I say she seems adamant we can't bring a packed lunch.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:22

handmademitlove · 07/06/2022 17:15

I would ask them if they can 100% guarantee that all food served to her will be free of all allergens? How do they ensure mistakes are not made? They will not be able to make that assurance due to the possibility of human error. I would also, if I was being particularly difficult, ask if they have discussed the issue with their insurers? Then ask them to put everything in writing. Then contact the school nursing team for your area and discuss it with them. I would also ask about food used in class as part of the curriculum - this is where my children were given the wrong foods. Because the classroom staff were not trained in the same way as the lunch staff. So asking my DS if he eats porridge at home and him saying yes meant they gave him porridge. Except it wasn't the gluten free / dairy free version we fed him..... Ask to see the policies on managing allergies within school. Ask who will be trained in epipen use. Ask where they will be stored - because in the school office locked safely out of reach when the keyholder cannot be found is not a good answer!

Thank you for this I'm going to write all these points down as I will be going in to discuss her allergy plan soon. You made some great points.

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Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:24

Keep escalating it if they keep being difficult. You're doing the right thing - your DD obviously has very serious allergies and you already have medical evidence.

You might need to make a plan to keep her lunch in a safe place. Perhaps in the school office? I think it's unlikely someone would tamper with it maliciously, but not impossible, especially if they don't understand how serious her condition is. Or she could have a locked lunch box.

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:25

Lentil63 · 07/06/2022 17:17

Go to your GP and ask them to write to the school too. Is it a state school? I suppose an independent school could argue that you were aware of the rules but they would also be very aware of litigation.
Write to the school yourself and set out exactly what your daughter is allergic to and the consequences of her coming into contact with these foods. Ask for reassurance that the school will 100% guarantee that she will not be exposed to these allergens, that they accept responsibility if she does and can ensure that there will be a person trained to administer her Epi-pen at all times.
They are being ridiculous and must surely relent. I hope you let us know the outcome. Good luck!
PS
My granddaughter who is vegan and lactose intolerant was given milk at school, you are right to be concerned.

Good idea regarding the GP letter. I have a letter from her allergy specialist but the more letters the better.

I think a letter to the school outlining everything would be good idea too as I can clearly state everything in black and write and write all the points I need clarity on so that we can discuss.

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Irridescantshimmmer · 07/06/2022 17:26

Tell the school that due to your daughter being at high risk of anaphylactic shock, she is covered by legislation ( Equality Act 2010)

Protected characteristics are fully covered so if I was you, I'd put my foot down with them.

Do not take no for an answer and tell them you are sending your little girl to school with a packed lunch for her own safety.

Don't let them walk all over both of you, so you will have peace of mind that your little girl is safe with them.

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Stormchaser1502 · 07/06/2022 17:26

This is atrocious! From a fellow mum of a dc with severe food allergies, needing an epipen several times in school, you absolutely have a legal right to feed your child what you wish!

my dd was at a primary that set out to make all KS1 children have school meals. They couldn’t force this within ks2 due to the implications of compliance among all parents to pay for such a thing!

im assuming your school is along the same lines?

if school don’t listen, then take it to the disability section of education within County. This is definitely a disability and should be treated as such!

would they insist a diabetic have chocolate cake because the rest of the school were?! No! They’re being pig headed and ignorant

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AllergyMumma · 07/06/2022 17:29

Innocenta · 07/06/2022 17:24

Keep escalating it if they keep being difficult. You're doing the right thing - your DD obviously has very serious allergies and you already have medical evidence.

You might need to make a plan to keep her lunch in a safe place. Perhaps in the school office? I think it's unlikely someone would tamper with it maliciously, but not impossible, especially if they don't understand how serious her condition is. Or she could have a locked lunch box.

I think perhaps her point about tampering with the lunch box was just to make a point against lunch boxes..surely there's not much chance of it really happening. But yes I can argue that the lunchbox can be kept somewhere safe. She takes packed lunch with no problems at her new nursery and it's been 8 months with no issues so far...vs school meals at her first nursery and getting seriously ill after less then a month :(

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