By Henry Ehrlich
If you are facing the problem of getting your food allergic child safely through school, you would do well to buy a copy of Food Allergies: A Recipe for Success at School. Likewise, if you are a school administrator trying to come to grips with bringing your school into compliance with various laws without rending the delicate social fabric of vital institutions—our public schools–that sometimes seem built on peanut butter and cupcakes.
Author Jan Hanson, founder of Educating for Food Allergies, LLC, has been consulting on these issues since 2001 and provides in effect an entire undergraduate and graduate education, starting with “Understanding Food Allergies”—think of it as Food Allergies 101—through planning for school, the legalities, including a side-by-side presentation of the intricacies of Section 504 plans and the ideas behind them. There is even a minor in psychology in the form of a chapter on the emotional issues, along with accounts of what happens when things go wrong. After all the years these issues have been in front of us, it is remarkable at how many stories we hear about schools seemingly confronting them for the first time, and how much resentment they incur. Ms. Hanson’s book is a rational deep breath.
Given the introduction of national access-to-epinephrine legislation, as well as more action at the state level, progress is being made, but the struggle is far from over. Whether you are a parent trying to move a mountain for your child, or a principal or superintendent trying to bring your school or district into the twenty-first century, this is a good place to start. No support group or Facebook moderator should be without it; you will become an instant expert.