POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The Centers for Disease Control and local school nurses say food allergies among children are on the rise. That’s why a local district is taking steps to make sure kids can still enjoy classroom celebrations while being safe this year.
Poland Schools are asking parents to leave any treats that they would bring in for parties and birthdays at home.
“We have so many students who have different types of food allergies. We decided to have all the treats that are purchased or given to students at schools to come through the food service department,” said Cathy Fedor, school nurse.
This year, the school district will be supplying the treats, which have to follow federal nutritional guidelines. The Parent Teacher Organization works with the food service director to choose what the kids will be served.
“Two-hundred calories or less, 35 percent of the calories can be from sugar and 35 percent can be from fat,” Fedor said.
All treats will be peanut- and tree nut-free, which are common food allergies.
The CDC says that 90 percent of all food allergies come from eight foods — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.
“The number of food allergies has dramatically increased in the last few years. There is no known reason for the increase but it is what it is,” Fedor said.
The change may be uncommon now but Poland’s food service director, Megan Roemer, expects it to soon be the norm.
“We’re moving toward a majority of schools having to focus on approved snack lists. There’s a lot more allergies that the nurses focused on earlier. It’s something most districts are going to move toward,” she said.
Meanwhile, Poland is also trying to make its lunch menus more appealing for students. Roemer said they are offering different and healthier options.
One of the big changes is the made-to-order deli bar at the high school. Kids can choose their own tortilla, meat, cheese, and toppings for their wrap.
Right now, only about 30 percent of the entire district buys school lunch. The district wants it to be closer to the national average, which is 55 percent.
“We are here to serve the students. We want to make sure they have a healthy meal when they come to school. The school does get reimbursement rates through the state so it helps with funding,” Roemer said.
She said the deli menu will start at the middle school soon.