April 10, 2013

My Personal Mission: A Nuts Table in Every School

My 8-year-old has been going through a huge transition year that I was not fully prepared for.  I must admit I didn't see third grade as being such an important year in my food allergic child's life, and I've been caught off guard by some of the challenges he's been faced with at school.  There has been food-allergy associated teasing and bullying, resulting in a lot of hurt feelings and confidence issues.

One of the reasons why I loved his school to begin with was the Nuts Table.  No, not the No-Nuts Table.  The Nuts Table.  If kids choose to bring nuts to school in their lunches, they must sit at the Nuts Table.  Too bad our school only implements it from kindergarten through second grade, then it changes to a No-Nuts Table. And for us, this was the year the trouble began.  I've tried to speak to them about it, but alas, this is their policy.  Well, you know what they say.  Try, try again.

It doesn't take much to understand that our kids would rather be part of a team than on the bench.

If your child's school already has a No-Nuts Table, then they already have a table designated for a group of children.  Perfect.  With a little reeducation, our food allergic children can sit with the masses.  It is my personal mission to try to change as many No-Nuts Tables into Nuts Tables as possible, through forward-thinking allergy-conscious people, like you!

You probably don't need it spelled out for you, but here goes...the top six reasons why I love the Nuts Table:

1.  Like I said, all it takes is a table and a bit of education.  It's so easy to implement, it's almost a no-brainer.  There are a plethora of rules and procedures associated with the lunchroom anyway, all of which are necessary to keep it running smoothly and safely.  This is such an important one for our school communities, in order to lead by example and demonstrate inclusion at lunch time.

2.  Most food allergic children will experience a sense of isolation and teasing along the way; we don't need to exacerbate this divide by putting them at their own table at lunch, too.  It's heartbreaking to think that this divisiveness could be avoided.  A Nuts Table says to our food allergic children, "Hey, we want you to be safe, but not excluded."

3.  A No-Nuts Table punishes kids who have no choice about their food allergies, while a Nuts table empowers children who actually have a choice about what they eat to consider their food preferences more carefully.

4.  A Nuts Table confines nuts, residues, and crumbs to one table, thus making a more thorough and focused table cleaning possible, and resulting in less allergic reactions due to cross contamination.

5.  A No-Nuts Table gives lunchroom monitors a sense of false security when it comes to food allergies.  It assumes that the possibility of an allergic reaction is highly unlikely.  In reality, about a third of children with food allergies have multiple food allergies, which means that these children still need to vigilantly follow safe practices at the No-Nuts Table.

6.  The Nuts Table is a wonderful means for every child to educate her parents about food allergies and about making food choices that affect us all.  After all, the parents are the ones making the lunches, but the kids have a say in what they want for lunch.

I've read enough stories similar to my son's to know that the No-Nuts Table, although a good first attempt at keeping our food allergic children safe, is a bit outdated.  We can do better for our children.

Please read, pass this on to your school administrators, friends, and family.  And thank you for always being your children's greatest advocate!


  1. I am mad on your behalf. That is discrimination.

  2. Though neither my children nor I have any allergy issues. However, I am really scared by reading your article. I am mad also. It kind of discrimination that our little kids are facing.