Allergy Aware

The number of children with food allergies continues to rise. This fact and the desire to best serve and protect our students with food allergies, prompted MPA to make a commitment to becoming more allergy aware.

MPA has a series of school-wide guidelines and protocols in place (see below). The overarching principle we embrace is to minimize as many risks as possible while realizing that it is impossible to eliminate them all. We have followed the lead of both independent and public schools in the development of the guidelines as well as federal agencies and national advocacy organizations.

Every student with food allergies should have a Food Allergy Action Plan and Individual Health Care Plan in place. To meet the requirements of one such plan, MPA prohibits peanuts and tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, and macadamias) in Lower School. Those allergens are strongly discouraged in Middle and Upper School. These are the two allergens most often linked to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can include vomiting, difficulty breathing, and in extreme cases, death.

Regardless of grade or division, we ask for your cooperation. Please abide by the guidelines provided and read food labels carefully. In the MPA spirit of compassion, support, and inclusiveness, thank you for supporting this effort.

Find more detailed information below and contact Julie Koster, School Nurse, at jkoster@moundsparkacademy.org or 651-748-5509 or your division director with any questions. Visit the Health Services page for forms.

Please do not send your child to school with peanuts or tree nuts. In Lower School, those allergens are prohibited. In Middle and Upper School, they are strongly discouraged.

The only way to know for certain what contains peanuts or tree nuts is to read the label of the packaging. The FDA requires that foods containing any of the top eight allergens be clearly labeled as such, in bold, within or at the end of the list of ingredients. If there is no mention of peanuts or tree nuts in bold, the product is safe.

Avoid any package that says:

  • Contains peanuts or tree nuts.
  • May contain peanuts or tree nuts.
  • Processed or manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts or tree nuts.
  • Made on equipment shared with peanuts or tree nuts.

Please consult the following website for safe food and snack ideas: www.snacksafely.com/safe-snack-guide. MPA selected this website because it is the only list that is updated regularly. We suggest downloading a copy and noting the expiration date of the list.

In addition, here is a general list of safe and unsafe foods ...

Often Safe at MPA
(always read the label to know for sure)

  • Fresh fruits prepared separately from peanuts and tree nuts
  • Fresh vegetables prepared separately from peanuts and tree nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Potato chips
  • Corn chips
  • Cereals
  • Wow Butter
  • Sunbutter
  • Lunch meat
  • Cheeses
  • Applesauce
  • Rice Cakes
  • Animal Crackers
  • Jerky
  • Raisins and other dried fruit

Never Safe at MPA

  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Mixed nuts

Tree Nuts including ...

  • Almonds
  • Almond butter
  • Almond milk
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Cashew butter
  • Cashew milk
  • Hazelnuts
  • Chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
  • Macadamias
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Seven Nut & Seed Butter (such as NuttZo)

Q: What is prohibited at MPA?

  • In Lower School, peanuts and tree nuts are prohibited.
  • In Middle and Upper School, peanuts and tree nuts are strongly discouraged.

Q: How do we know what foods contain peanuts or tree nuts?
The FDA requires that packaged foods containing any of the top eight allergens be clearly labeled as such, in bold, within or at the end of the list of ingredients. If there is no mention of peanuts or tree nuts in bold, the product is safe. Please avoid any package that says:

  • Contains peanuts or tree nuts.
  • May contain peanuts or tree nuts.
  • Processed or manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts or tree nuts.
  • Made on equipment shared with peanuts or tree nuts.

You will find this information immediately following the ingredient list on the nutrition label. If none of the above is present and the food has been prepared in an environment free from peanuts or tree nuts (i.e. clean knives, cutting boards, strainers, storage containers, etc.) you can know it is safe to bring to MPA. In addition, fresh fruits and vegetables that are prepared in an environment free from peanuts or tree nuts are safe.

Q: Do I need to read the entire list of ingredients, looking for traces of peanuts or tree nuts disguised as another ingredient?
You do need to read the entire list of ingredients as allergens may be bolded in the list. Alternatively, allergens may be listed at the end of the list of ingredients in bold. Either way, the FDA requires that the allergen be bolded. See sample label to the right.

Q: May we bring in takeout or food items from a bakery?
In Lower School, only if the facility and/or packaging meets the requirements stated above. In Middle and Upper School, we strongly encourage families and students to abide by the requirements above. For your reference, Chipolte is nearby and well-known for being peanut and tree nut free.

Q: What if something just says "peanut free." Can we assume it is tree nut free?
No. Peanuts and tree nuts are different allergens. A peanut is a legume that grows in the ground. A tree nut is a nut that grows on shrubs or trees including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.

Q: What if something isn't on the SnackSafely list that MPA provided, but has a label that indicates the product is safe?
If the label says it is safe, it is safe. The SnackSafely list is not comprehensive of all safe foods, however, it is the most reliable list due to its frequent updates. Always consult the label for the most recent information.

Q: What if products that are safe are in combo packs of products that are not safe?
Please refer to the outermost packaging in that case due to the possibility of cross contamination.

Q: Who do I contact with questions?
Please contact your division director or the school nurse, Julie Koster, with any questions. She can be reached at at jkoster@moundsparkacademy.org or 651-748-5509. No question is too small!

While we understand that holidays like Valentine's Day can be challenging for families to be Allergy Aware, we strive to make it as easy as possible.

In early February, SnackSafely will release a special Valentine's Day edition of the safe snack/treat list. We will share that as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, many options exist on their regular list and can be accessed here: www.snacksafely.com/safe-snack-guide.

In addition, we created a Pinterest board with food free Valentine ideas, which we encourage families to do in place of food. We will continue to add to that board. Visit www.pinterest.com/moundsparkacademy

Mounds Park Academy Allergy Aware Guidelines and Protocol

Mounds Park Academy is dedicated to fostering the health, nutrition, and well-being of students with food allergies by providing education and a supportive school community. For anyone living with chronic health conditions requiring special dietary needs such as food allergies, the teaching and fostering of self-management skills is crucial to optimizing health and social normalcy.

Since schools cannot guarantee a food safe environment, upon request MPA will take measures to minimize the risk of an exposure, as well as educate employees and volunteers to respond to life threatening reactions. Our goal is to minimize the risk of a food allergy emergency, knowing our inability to completely eliminate the risk.

Therefore, it is the approach of Mounds Park Academy to provide a “food allergy aware” environment for a student(s) with a known food allergy. Structural supports and protocols, which establish best practices for children with food allergies, will be followed. This includes instruction and education to improve personal food allergy management skills in the confines of a “food allergy aware” school. In addition, the school will develop individual health care plans as warranted.

Goals

  1. Ensure the daily management of food allergies for individual children.
    1. Develop and utilize specific procedures to identify children with food allergies
    2. Develop a plan for managing and reducing risks of food allergic reactions in children through a Food Allergy Action Plan/Individual Health Care Plan
    3. Create a Lower School Allergy Aware Action Team
    4. Assist students to manage their own food allergies
  2. Be prepared for food allergy emergencies.
    1. Set up communications systems that are easy to use in emergencies
    2. Make sure staff are able to access to EpiPens quickly and easily
    3. Make sure that the EpiPen is used when needed and that someone immediately contacts emergency medical services
    4. Identify the role of each staff member in a food allergy emergency
    5. Prepare for food allergy reactions in children without prior history of food allergies
    6. Include food allergy protocol in the school’s emergency preparedness plan
    7. Hold periodic drills for a food allergy emergency
    8. Document the response to a food allergy emergency
  3. Train employees on how to manage food allergies and respond to allergy reactions.
    1. Provide general training on food allergies for all employees
    2. Provide in-depth training for the Lower School employees
    3. Provide specialized training for the Lower School Allergy Aware Action Team responsible for managing the health of children with food allergies on a daily basis
  4. Educate all students and families about food allergies.
    1. Teach all children about food allergies
    2. Teach all parents and families about food allergies
  5. Create and maintain an allergy aware and safe educational environment.
    1. Create an environment that is as safe as possible from exposure to food allergies
    2. Develop food-handling policies and procedures to prevent food allergens from unintentionally contacting other food
    3. Make outside groups aware of food allergy policies and rules when they use school facilities
    4. Promote a positive psychosocial climate that reduces bullying and social isolation and promotes acceptance and understanding of children with food allergies