Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Freedom or Yours?

These days, the concept of "freedom" seems to be in jeopardy. Everyone is fighting for what they perceive to be their right to have this or that. If something gives you freedom, it is almost certain that your freedom will be taking away some one else's. It is all subjective.

As a blogger, I try to collect as much current information about food allergies as I can. One of the ways that I get my news is through Google alerts. I have it set to send me everything about food allergies and gluten and wheat intolerance. Every so often I see someone pose a question that is meant to create a debate and when it involves food allergies, sparks fly. If you want to see a good example of what I am talking about take a look at the following link... Should School Classrooms Ban Peanut Butter? by a blog called Lehigh Valley Parenting.

This is just one of those issues that seems to threaten everyone. The parents of the kid who is severely allergic to nuts want to do everything they can to make sure that their child is safe while at school. The school has an obligation to keep all their students safe. And peanut allergies, especially, are deadly and harder to control. And more and more children seem to be having these serious food allergies. Thus, the no nut policy has been appearing at schools across the nation. A nation who's go to, kid friendly lunch item happens to be a PB&J. Naturally, parents of the non-allergic children are then forced to find alternate foods for their picky eaters to nosh on while away from home. And let's be honest, it pisses them off because it feels like another person's problem is now their problem. Goodbye, freedom!

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know where I stand on this issue. Nuts should not be allowed in schools. At the very least, not in elementary schools. It is simply too dangerous. Yes, I know little Mikey will only eat a PB&J for lunch and I know that it is a stretch to find something else for him to eat, BUT his sandwich could actually kill another child. If the situation was reversed, I am quite certain that you would ask the kid to kindly leave his peanut butter at home.

There is a wonderful book that we discovered recently at our local library that approaches both sides of this issue in a very level headed manner. It is called "The Peanut Free Cafe" by Gloria Koster. The following is a review that describes the book perfectly...

"The most popular food at Nutley School is peanut butter, and Simon eats it on a bagel every day. Then a new student who has a peanut allergy comes to the school. Principal Filbert makes a peanut-free lunch table, and anyone who has a peanut-free lunch can eat there. Grant sits there alone. Simon suggests that they make the table a fun place, and the school starts a Peanut-Free Cafe that features snacks, arts and crafts, and a movie for the admission of a peanut-free lunch. Simon can't participate because he is unable to give up his favorite food. Finally he convinces himself to eat something else so that he can join his friends, but after school and on weekends he still enjoys peanut butter. The story addresses several important topics, all with a lighthearted touch. Cocca-Lefflers humorous and exuberant illustrations make the book fun. An informative and colorful selection, told in a nonthreatening way that kids will relate to." –Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI

I love the caring spirit of this book. I really feel like there is not enough talk about what is good for the school community, as a whole. Whatever happened to caring for our neighbors? Or protecting those around us and not just ourselves? Somehow, our ravenous need for "freedom" has trumped everything else. It is something to think about...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I follow your blog and agree with your post. I feel that my child's right to make it through the day alive and in one piece is more important than someone's right to eat a particular food. In addition to nut/peanut allergies, my daughter is also a picky eater, so this limits choices further and I am able to find things she will eat. What I don't get is why can't kids just eat PB or other nuts at home after school, for dinner, desert, on weekends for all three meals?? The school day here is 6 hours, if a kid does not eat any pb or nut products they will survive.

I'm lucky that my daughter's school has a peanut/nut free policy in the school district. No policy is perfect, but it has been okay so far. On the first day of school, the principal gives an orientation for parents and at the end a grandpa went up to ask on behalf of his grandson, if he would allow him to eat a pb sandwich and let the kids who can't have it sit at a different table. The prinicpal said no, that the policy set by the board, I have to keep kids safe, then pointed to me about my daughter having the allergy, I said yes, please keep the policy because, it's a life threatening condition. The grandpa just turned away and never even looked at me. I felt his comment was inapropriate.

On another note, my daughter just started Daisy scounts, and when I mentioned the allergy, they said okay, no nuts at snack time and they were so nice about it :). Although one of the trips they are considering is to a local bakery, but I'll think about that when the time comes.

Linda (NJ)