Editorials: Food allergy problems

The Schreiber Times

Food allergies are very common; there are more than 3 million cases in the United States every year.  At school, many students who come into contact with or are in the presence of tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, seafood, a variety of fruits, dairy, and other products can be at risk of severe injuries and unnecessary harm.  And unfortunately, just sitting at a classroom desk can prompt these complications. Many teachers allow students to eat lunch in their rooms, and numerous students eat lunch in the English computer lab each day. Because students often eat their lunch in computer labs, the hallway, or even in class, there are no real safe zones for allergy-prone students.

The administration can set rules about what to bring for lunch (i.e. no peanuts) but there is no real way to enforce this upon such a large student body. Imagine the assistant principals checking school lunches for potential allergens each day, akin to when they checked backpacks for senior pranks. Furthermore, this would involve careful scrutiny: “did she bring a peanut butter sandwich or is this apple butter?” Rather than this, some schools have decided to implement a policy where lunch provided by school is mandatory.

The Schreiber Times believes that Schreiber could follow these schools’ example and institute a mandatory free lunch policy for all students.  This system would provide lunch for all students as well as factor in dietary restrictions, such as vegetarian and kosher preferences.  This system would also benefit families with financial burdens; although there is a system in place for students unable to afford school lunch, this system does not account for fluctuations in families’ disposable income. Under this general free-lunch system, this issue would be avoided.

Likewise, this system would likely only be feasible if the schools had an NSA sized budget, which was over $50 billion in 2013, although this is probably an underrepresentation of what was actually spent. Unfortunately, Schreiber does not have the luxury of an ever expanding budget. Perhaps, a more economically sound means of establishing peanut free, and other allergen free zones, should be implemented.

This is commonplace in numerous elementary schools and middle schools, and costs nothing to implement. It’s also something that would cause no flack from the student body; no one would object to safer lunches with no added personal restrictions.