Food Allergy Background / Parent Advisory Committee
After beginning to learn more about the increasing dangers of food allergies and childhood obesity, District 135 administrators wanted to learn more about the next steps in helping protect our students. In June 2007, administrators and nurses met with Christine Szychlinski, APN, CPNP, the Division of Allergy Manager from Children's Memorial Hospital. Christine provided us with insights regarding the role of schools for children with food allergies. The administrators learned that the number of children with food allergies is growing every year, and that the allergies can be fatal. We found her presentation and the discussion that followed most informative and helpful.
After the meeting, the administrators and nurses then held a meeting for parents whose children have food allergies, discussing the information Christine had shared and solutions that had been suggested to help protect children with food allergies. Those meetings and the conversations that followed led to several proactive steps, including the implementation of new cleaning methods for certain areas of each school building, and the creation of the District's first official food list for snacks and parties in an effort to ensure the safety of those students who have food allergies.
Then-Superintendent Dennis Soustek worked with parents and staff members for many months on this issue and formed a Parent Advisory Committee to discuss the list and the District's interest in creating a Wellness Policy with the Board of Education. The Committee also talked about food issues beyond allergies such as diabetes, and looked at examples of other districts' policies regarding health and wellness.
Former Superintendent Soustek noted: "By talking more about the food issues our children face, we have made a very positive step toward making our students safer in school. We hope that by instituting a school policy of wellness for them, we can also promote healthier lifestyles that they will carry with them throughout their lives. We look forward to working with our parents, staff, our food service provider and the Board of Education in making District 135 an environment where children are happy and healthy, and enjoy a truly wonderful education."
By the 2008-09 school year, the snack list changed to be more wellness-oriented, and it continues to be reviewed each year. The Board also adopted Wellness Policy 647 in March of 2008.
In addition to these wellness efforts, we have CPR training for all 7th grade students. Our P.E. classess address wellness and the importance of physical activity throughout the curriculum. Additionally, our junior high classes use heart rate monitors in P.E. and participate in "Jump for Heart" and "Hoops for Heart" fundraisers for the American Heart Association.
We are also proud partners with our food service provider Quest Food Management. We began working with Quest in the 2008-09 school year. They have a healthy focus as well and they offer a wealth of information about their products and ingredients on their website for all parents to view.