Food Allergies in the School Cafeteria
The month of May has been designated National Allergy Awareness Month and this week (May 12-18, 2019) is actually Food Allergy Awareness Week. Because food allergies are on the rise in children, managing food allergies in school nutrition programs must be a priority. Unfortunately, there is no cure for food allergies and approximately 30% of school-aged children are allergic to more than one food.
There are over 170 types of food known to cause food allergies, but eight are by far the most common. Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish account for 90% of all food allergies. And while there’s many tools and resources to help you educate yourself and others , allergic symptoms range widely depending on the severity (which also makes them difficult to detect).
Managing food allergies is challenging, especially in the school cafeteria. Directors and food allergy management must emphasize the importance of reading labels, cleaning procedures to prevent any sort of allergic reaction, and prompting food allergy awareness throughout the school community.
Fortunately, your school nutrition technology can also play a large role in ensuring the safety and inclusion of students with food allergies. For example, your POS software should have an updated student list pulled from your SIS that includes a picture and flag any students with food allergies. The software should be equipped to alert cashiers of students’ food allergies and other limitations. Also, your menu planning software should mark food allergens at the ingredient level so it’s automatically tracked through the recipe, menu, and into the menu cycle.
Meals Plus provides all the safeguards to reduce the risk of exposure to food allergens and help prevent allergic reactions in the cafeteria. Our school menu planning software makes it easy to manage your students’ food allergies, quickly build cycle menus and is fully integrated with the Meals Plus Inventory Management and Production Record components, which allows for automated usage tracking.
Check out how our office in Wilmington, NC is celebrating Food Allergy Awareness Week today by participating in #TealTakeover.