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Hastings Schools Battle Food Allergies in Class

The caption of this story has been corrected to show the Laura Sullivan is the principal of Hillside Elementary School.

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Food allergies in schools are something many parents have to worry about when sending their children off to class. With nut and other allergies becoming more common among children, local elementary schools have taken precautions in the classroom.

“The first thing we do is we have yellow alert folders that go into all the classes and all the public spaces in the school that have pictures of each student that has significant food allergies and the description of it and the steps of their emergency health plan is listed in that,” said Hillside Elementary School Principal Laura Sullivan.

Peanuts are one of the most common allergies in children so many schools have taken steps to keep kids safe in the class and in the cafeteria.

“We also have nut-free tables in our lunch room where children with food allergies will sit and they’re allowed to invite a few buddies every day to sit with them as long as they have nut-free lunches as well,” Sullivan said.

Although there are peanut-free zones where many children eat lunch each day, local schools have made it a point to not make kids feel alienated. One way of doing that is by getting the students themselves involved in safety precautions.

“Sometimes the parents or the families come in and they speak to the class about it and then the kids sort of become helpers in making sure they keep their classmate safe,” said Springhurst Elementary School Principal Julia Drake.

Peanut-free zones are a way of helping everyone rest a little easier when lunch time arrives at school.

“I think it gives parents and kids a peace of mind and it eliminates a potentially dangerous situation,” Drake said.

Something both Drake and Sullivan agreed on was that the safety precautions start at home and any cooperation from parents goes a long way.

“We’re not a peanut-free school so we’re asking parents to just work with us, to kind of be a pal to those children with food allergies to help them out,” Sullivan said.

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