Managing Allergies at School
Opaa! Nutrition Services is an essential member of the team contributing to the development and implementation of the Individual Health Plan (IHP) for any student with life-threatening food allergies.
Opaa! works with the district and parents to ensure nutrition services policies and procedures for students with life-threatening food allergies are aligned with district policies and procedures.
- The school district's Director of Nutrition Services (an Opaa! employee) has access to educational resources and is responsible for all aspects of meal production and service within the district.
- The role of each school's Food Services Manager (an Opaa! employee) is to clearly communicate his/her department's capabilities with the school nurse, principal and parent regarding food allergy accommodations for students at school.
Necessary food substitutions will be accommodated when information is provided by the child's health care provider. The Opaa! Director of Nutrition Services will review the signed diet prescription form for adequate detail to clearly identify appropriate food substitutions. The physician must identify the student's disability as defined under USDA guidelines. When, according to the licensed physician's assessment, food allergies may result in severe, life-threatening (anaphylactic) reactions, the child's condition meets the definition of a disability, and the substitutions prescribed by the licensed physicians must be made. More
Please note that only the student's health care provider may make the determination of "life-threatening" for the purposes of a school diet prescription.
For students with life-threatening food allergies, a diet prescription form must identify:
- The student's disability
- An explanation of why the disability restricts the child's diet
- The major life activity affected by the disability
- The food or foods to be omitted from the child's diet, and the food or choice of foods that must be substituted
No Latex Gloves
Due to the large number of allergies to Latex, no Latex gloves are used by Opaa! for production or service to students.
Getting Off to a Good Start at School
Opaa! has a great deal of experience working with families of students with food allergies. Communication is critical, however, so we recommend the following steps to get your child off to a successful start:
Step One—Provide a Medical Statement
Before we can devise a plan to address the needs of your child, you must provide the child's medical statement (completed by physician) to the school. This will give Opaa! and the school the specific information we need to formulate a plan.
Step Two—Schedule a Personal Consultation
Every child, and every physician's recommendation, is unique. That's why we recommend parents request a personal consultation with the school district's Director of Nutrition Services (an Opaa! employee) and the school nurse. If your child is old enough, by all means, include him or her. Together, we'll study the doctor's recommendations and come up with a plan for your child.
Step Three—Introduce Your Child to Kitchen Staff
Opaa! kitchen staff members take a personal interest in children with special dietary needs. The Director of Nutrition Services will be happy to familiarize your child with the cafeteria routine and introduce your child to the staff. If a parent agrees, Opaa! can even hang a picture of your child in a location that is not visible to other students but is plainly visible to kitchen staff.
Step Four—Request Monthly Menus
The Director of Nutrition Services in every district has access to menus and the nutritional analysis of meals, by month, and will provide that information to a school nurse or parent upon request. Parents and students should review the menus and prepare a list of changes that are necessary, along with suggestions for substitutions for meals.
Should questions arise, your first call should be to the school nurse, not the Director of Nutrition Services or kitchen staff. The nurse can usually provide answers. If not, she'll consult with Opaa! personnel to determine next steps.
NOTE: It's important to note that Opaa! is not a health care provider. Opaa! is, however, committed to following all of your doctor's directions.
For even more specifics about how Opaa! works with children with food allergies, you may download a pdf of Opaa's Allergies Position Paper.