According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 4%–6% of children in the United States, and have increased among children by 18% during the 1997-2007 period.
Allergic reactions range from mild to life threatening, but impact every aspect of affected children's lives - families, friends, schools, day cares, churches, playgroups, etc. This poses a particularly confusing scenario for parents and children alike, and highlights the question of who shoulders the responsibility of ensuring children's snacks are safe for all .
Recently, the National PTA (with Udi's Gluten Free) conducted a survey of more than 3,100 members to learn more about food allergies and how they affect the daily lives of kids, parents and teachers.
The results demonstrate that food allergies are a big concern in the classroom when the responsibility and ability to monitor a child shifts from just the parents of an allergic child to the teacher as well as parents of the other children in the class.
An overwhelming majority, 94%, of parents surveyed, feel that food allergies are more common in their child's school than when they were in school, and noted that peanut, milk, tree nut, and gluten or wheat allergies are among the most common.
Additionally, the survey found:
- -76% of parents say that food allergies are common at their child’s school and among their child’s friends; 1 in 3 surveyed parents say their child has a food allergy.
Although accommodating allergies has become more prevalent as awareness and education have increased, the survey indicates that some parents and teachers have still seen kids being made fun of for their food allergy.
And while the majority of surveyed parents and teachers say that other parents should do everything they can to find one snack that every child in the classroom can enjoy versus purchasing a “special” snack for kids with allergies, more education is needed for parents and children alike to ensure children with allergies are safe and healthy.
For recipes and ideas, check out these sites, courtesy of Udi’s: