I’m so proud of our school and so grateful to the head of our Lower School who is conscious of and working towards improving the emotional well-being of our food allergic students.
I have mixed feelings about the Peanut-Free Table at elementary schools. While I appreciate that it helps teachers and administrators keep food allergic kids safe during lunchtime, I am concerned that it may exacerbate social issues that those kids already face.
Kids with food allergies already know what it’s like to feel excluded. They are excluded all the time. From the food at most in-class parties, from dessert at restaurants, treats at birthday parties, team celebrations, holidays, from the concession stand at the movies… the list could go on and on.
In the meantime, I had approached the head of our elementary school last year to discuss an idea I had. After reading, The Peanut-Free Cafe, it occurred to me that we too could create a fun, desirable environment for our food allergic kids to enjoy. They shouldn’t feel excluded from their class/friends’ tables. We needed to create a space where food allergic kids could feel enthusiastic to eat!
The head happily agreed this was an idea we could work on! Our school recently rebuilt its cafeteria and included an area, right near the beautiful wall-to-wall windows, where our school’s new “Peanut-Free Cafe” would go. It is a space that, by year’s end, will be filled with the kids’ own artwork; where they can invite their friends to join them. And, where my son is excited to sit!