Schools implement new food allergy plan

COVINGTON - Officials at the Newton County School System want students with food allergies to be a little safer at school.

In December, the school nutrition program first implemented an initiative to create a school-based allergy plan for students who have or develop allergies to certain foods.

"This plan is a team-based approach that includes the involved student, nurse, teacher, registered dietitian and family members," said Jan Loomans, director of school nutrition for NCSS. "A school-based allergy plan should address all situations where a student might be consuming food while at school; this includes food consumed in the classroom."

Although each school nutrition manager notifies Susan Stone, nutrition education coordinator at NCSS, when they receive information about students with new or existing food allergies, NCSS officials encourage families to also meet with Stone, who is available to develop a food allergy plan with parents, teachers and school nurses.

Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS, said this new resource will allow both parents and affected students to make safer food choices in the cafeteria and otherwise.

"We are taking additional steps for these students with food allergies," she said.

Loomans said already federal regulations for school nutrition programs require that the school nutrition program staff address student food allergies and provide substitutes for some serious allergies.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. Loomans said common food allergies include peanuts, milk and seafood allergies, among others.

"Food allergies can vary in their degree of seriousness, making it all the more important for parents and staff to discuss an appropriate plan of action," she said.

The FDA said symptoms can be severe and life-threatening and that mild symptoms can become more severe over time.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At A Glance

Common Food Allergy Symptoms

· Hives

· Flushed skin or rash

· Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth

· Face, tongue or lip swelling

· Vomiting and/or diarrhea

· Abdominal cramps

· Coughing or wheezing

· Dizziness and/or lightheadedness

· Swelling of the throat and vocal chords

· Difficulty breathing

· Loss of consciousness

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration