Sending a child off to day care or school with a food allergy can be overwhelming. Each new school year presents a variety of challenges for the child and their family.
Our specialized food allergy nurse can help guide you through these transitions. She can connect you with school planning resources and tools, act as an advocate for your child, and coordinate services from the U-M Food Allergy Clinic, including:
- Doctor’s letter documenting your child’s food allergy and medical needs
- Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP) and medication authorization forms
- Recommendations for classroom, cafeteria, bus and field trip accommodations
- Assistance and/or review of a 504 Plan
- Consultation with school/child care personnel, as an advocate for your child
- Food allergy education and/or epinephrine auto-injector training for school personnel
Before the new academic year starts, schedule a meeting with the school nurse, or whomever handles health planning at your child’s school.
Learn in advance how your child's school manages food allergy, what your responsibilities are and the school’s responsibilities. Many Michigan school districts have guidelines for how to care for a student with food allergies (generally listed on their websites and/or available by request).
If your school district doesn't have written policies, the following resources may be helpful:
- Voluntary guidelines for managing food allergies in schools (CDC)
- School Guidelines for Managing Students with Food Allergies (National Association of School Nurses - NASN)
- Safe at School and Ready to Learn: A Comprehensive Policy Guide for Protecting Students with Life-Threatening Food Allergies (National School Board Association)
- Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) Foundation – School/Preschool Resources
- KFA – School Planning Webinar featuring KFA Medical Advisory Board members, including Nancy Polmear-Swendris, MS, RN, U-M Food Allergy Clinic
If needed, obtain an updated letter annually from your child’s allergist that documents their food allergy. Food Allergy Action Plans (FAAP) need to be updated annually. Request one from your allergist in late summer.
Get everyone on board
- Work with school personnel to develop a written individual health plan that outlines the accommodations to help manage your child’s food allergy and the treatment for an allergic reaction.
- Include your child in the school planning process, as developmentally appropriate. Children can offer useful insight on how policies or rules affect them and their day-to-day lives at school. Involving your child in the process helps them learn how to advocate for themselves, becoming more empowered to manage their own health.
- Make sure that school personnel understand food allergy and are trained annually to manage your child’s specific needs, per the written individual health plan. The Food Allergy Clinic offers free education and training that can help bridge the knowledge gap and specific needs of the child.
- Keep the lines of communication open with key school personnel and work together on behalf of your child. Schedule a meeting with the school team, including your child’s teacher(s) prior to the start of school.
- Seek an advocate, if needed.
- Stay positive and be proactive!
It is vitally important that everyone who is responsible for your child throughout the school day—administrators, teachers, office professionals, cafeteria workers, parent volunteers, bus drivers, child care providers, coaches, etc.—not only understands food allergy, but also knows your child’s individual health plan and how to respond to an allergic reaction. The Food Allergy Clinic staff can provide free food allergy education and training at your school on the following topics:
- Up-to-date food allergy medical facts
- Evidenced based food allergen avoidance strategies and accommodations
- Recognizing signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction
- Understanding anaphylaxis—managing an allergic emergency, calling 911
- Food Allergy Action Plan (FAAP)—Protocols for treating an allergic reaction
- How to use an epinephrine auto-injector
- Peer advocacy
To schedule a food allergy presentation or consultation at your school, please contact Nancy Polmear-Swendris, MS, RN at 734-232-2161 or via email.
Food allergy training resources for school personnel
- Allergy Ready Program
- Food Allergies in Schools Toolkit (CDC)
- Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Toolkit (National Association of School Nurses – NASN)
- Get Trained (National Association of School Nurses – NASN)
The University of Michigan Food Allergy Clinic provides links to educational resources as a service to our patients. Neither the University nor the Food Allergy Clinic are responsible for the contents or reliability of any external websites listed here, and the presence of the links on our website does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the views expressed within them. As always, the Internet is not a tool for self-diagnosis, and is not a substitute for professional medical care and support.
Take the next step
We accept physician and self-referrals. To make an appointment with the University of Michigan Food Allergy Clinic or to learn more about our services, please call 888-229-2409.