Alergia alimentar na escola - Fidu | Alimentos Inclusivos

Inclusion: Food Allergy at School

School is the place where children spend most of their day and where they have several meals, between snacks and lunches. It is where they are left in the care of others, out of sight of their parents. For parents of children with food allergies, leaving their six children at school can be a source of concern and anxiety for the care they need. Every school year, mothers and fathers join forces, fight for the inclusion and safety of their children at school, inform and educate about food allergies.

For a long time there was a need to regulate the performance and responsibility of schools in cases of food allergy, especially those that are life-threatening. This week, finally, the regulation that creates mechanisms to guarantee the school inclusion of children with food allergies was published, produced by the Working Group on Food Allergies at School created in 2019, composed of health professionals and representatives of the Directorates-General of the Education, Schools and Health.

The regulation that establishes procedures to deal with cases of food allergy in schools, identifies the different interlocutors involved, how they should act and what the responsibilities of each one are, highlighting the importance of training the school community.

We highlight some key points of the regulation:

- Parents/guardians must continue to be the essential link in the communication and updating of information between education and health.

- The School's Internal Regulation and other guiding documents must include issues related to the specific health needs of students with Food Allergies and Intolerances.

- The Assistant Physician, the School Board, the School Health Team / Group of Health Centers, the Multidisciplinary Team to Support Inclusive Education, the company providing the meals / kitchen staff and the teaching and non-teaching.

- Students with food allergies must have an Individual Health Plan according to the model provided by the Directorate-General for Education and Directorate-General for Health. This must be prepared by the School Health Team in collaboration with the parents/guardians and the rest of the school team.

- The School Board must guarantee safe and adequate meals in a place where meals are compatible with the student's needs, in conjunction with the kitchen/company supplying school meals.

- Schools must have Adrenaline Pens in an easily accessible place and duly accompanied by the emergency plan and administration instructions, whenever they have students with known allergy and risk of anaphylaxis and in all schools with more than 1000 students, even without students with identified allergies.

- In the case of students at risk of anaphylaxis, the adrenaline pen must be provided by the parents, obtained free of charge by medical prescription.

- Parents may authorize the child or young person, with understanding and training to use the pen in an emergency, to carry their own pen. And they must also authorize in writing that school staff, who have received specific training/training, may, in case of anaphylaxis, administer adrenaline.

- The School Health Team must provide training to the staff who prepare the meal, namely regarding the care to be taken to avoid cross-contamination and to teaching and non-teaching staff, for the recognition and action in the face of an anaphylactic food reaction. Ideally, at the beginning of the school year, in all schools with students identified with food allergies and in those with more than 1000 students.

- The Assistant Physician can signal the child or young person, with the consent of the parents, to the Group of Health Centers or Local Health Unit, which, in turn, will be able to provide direct information to the school.

- The School Board must support the child or young person with food allergy, during the entire period of stay at school and in the respective curricular and extracurricular activities, promoting their inclusion and safety, being responsible for adopting measures/creating procedures for the food provided during school activities, including field trips or festive activities, such as celebrating birthdays, whenever there are children with a diagnosed food allergy.

- The School must also ensure that materials used, especially in pre-school education, for activities – “science” / “handwork and/or plastic expression” – ex. plasticine – they are safe and do not contain traces of food-borne allergens (eg milk, egg, …).

- Awareness-raising actions should be promoted for the entire educational community, including the food service provider, availability of leaflets and preparation of simulation exercises with training devices, that is, without needles and without adrenaline, in conjunction with the School Health Team .

This was another achievement for parents, allergy sufferers and everyone dealing with food allergies who have fought for inclusion and promotion of safety and awareness of food allergies. There is still a lot to be done, but little by little we are gaining ground.

We Fidu and our team will continue to do our part to contribute to a more inclusive and safer world for those living with food allergies!