Put Down That Peanut Butter Sandwich!

All K-12 schools in Michigan should be nut free.

Courtney Cohen, Op-Ed Contributor

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You’re at school, sitting in class, working on your math homework, counting down the minutes until the fifth-hour bell. You hear a student next to you crunching on trail mix, and you can feel the crumbs raining down on your desk. Your eye itches, and you scratch it. All of a sudden, everything stops. You can’t breathe, and your throat starts to close up. Your arms and legs start to itch, and red hives whiz across your body. If you don’t get help soon, you could die. You reach into your bag for your epinephrine, the only treatment, but no one around you knows what it is or how to use it. People stare. You are immediately rushed to the hospital. All from the smallest particle of a peanut.

Students with food allergies can feel unsafe at school. Nut-free schools can help fix the growing issue of food allergies. In the past 11 years, the presence of a peanut or tree nut allergy has more than tripled. Students should be able to focus on their schoolwork, and not be afraid for their lives. Out of the 5.9 million school-aged children who have food allergies, more than 15% will have a reaction at school. Unfortunately, this statistic is too high. Something needs to be done about this. All K-12 schools in Michigan should be nut free.

Many people are misinformed about the severity of a food allergy if not handled correctly. One solution to handling food allergies in schools is to restrict those with allergies to a special table in the lunchroom for these students to sit, excluding them from the rest of the school. Even with allergy-free tables, students’ allergens still find ways of making it to these tables. Nut allergies are two of the most common allergens, and banning them in schools can help those allergic to breathe easy at school. Nut free policies should not only be created, but enforced. Even if it’s unlikely that a child could die, it’s still a very real possibility. It is worth it to go to great lengths to protect students’ lives.
Children with food allergies tend to have more stress and anxiety. According to FoodAllergyAwareness.org, 41 percent of the parents and students surveyed reported a significant impact on their stress levels due to food allergies, and they even found that allergies had significantly impacted school attendance. Food allergies should never impact someone’s ability to succeed. Students face plenty of stress from their daily schoolwork, school activities and more. The stress from day-to-day education is enough to make anyone go insane, and students should not have to focus on their food allergies on top of all of the many stresses of school.

Still, some experts disagree. According to acsh.org, schools with nut-free policies had around the same rate of epinephrine use as schools without. Therefore they believe these policies can be ineffective. However, this statistic is only a number and does not represent how nut-free schools affect children’s comfort and contentment at schools. It is worth keeping nuts out of schools if it means helping students to feel safer and more protected. These nut-free policies should be created, enforced, and school staff and students should be more informed about how to handle this life-threatening condition.
It’s about time that schools take measures to help their students feel safe. The issue of food allergies is on the rise, and school administration needs to realize that. It’s a small and simple, but effective change that will have many benefits as more and more children get diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies.

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About the Writer
Courtney Cohen, Editor

Courtney Cohen is an eighth grader at Warner Middle School. She is a competitive dancer at Studio A, dancing multiple hours each day. She does jazz, ballet,...

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