Friday, October 25, 2013

Update on the New Nut/Peanut Allergy Guidelines

letter from the Superintendent

Serving Amherst, Pelham and the Amherst-Pelham Region

October 23, 2013
Dear Parent/Guardians:

As previously announced, the districts’ new allergy aware guidelines will take effect on Monday, October 28, 2013.  This information is intended to answer the most frequently asked questions that have been posed about the guidelines, as well as to provide helpful information to support families at this time of transition.

  • Is this a ban on nuts or just a request not to bring nuts into the schools?
The new guidelines hold an expectation that no student or staff member will bring a food item containing nuts or nut products into the schools.  This change of practice is designed to help protect the safety and wellbeing of students who have life threatening allergies to nuts.  Although we cannot guarantee that there will never be nuts in the schools, we will maintain the expectation of “no nuts” in order to enhance the safety of our students. 

  • Will there be disciplinary consequences imposed on those who do not abide by the guidelines?

The allergy aware guidelines will be implemented and addressed in an educational manner, not as a disciplinary matter.  As we all adjust to this new practice, if a staff member sees that a student has a food item that contains nuts, s/he will instruct the student to put the food item back into their bag. A food service lunch that meets any dietary restrictions of the student will then be provided for that day.  The student’s parent/guardian will be called to remind them about the new guidelines and to have their child refrain from bringing in food products with nuts.   On Monday and Tuesday, October 28 and 29, we will have assemblies for students from kindergarten through eighth grade on the topic of food allergies featuring Kyle Dine.  Last year, Mr. Dine presented at Fort River School and the response was positive.      

  • What if my child has a specific medical condition which will be complicated by this change of practice?

As with all individual medical issues, we encourage you to contact the school nurse to discuss this and, when needed, an individual plan will be developed.

  • Can children with food allergies become less vigilant about their safety when this practice is put into place?  

It is extremely important for all students who have nut allergies to continue to practice their individual safety measures.  These measures are important life lessons for them and will continue to be necessary in school as well as in all other areas of the community. 

Understanding that this change in practice will be a challenging shift for some, the district has gathered information that we hope families will find helpful. Several parents have also offered suggestions for us to share. 
  • High protein substitutions for some popular nut product foods can be found at
  • An updated list of safe snacks is available in the school offices and can be accessed on our website ( or at   This site includes peanut butter substitutions as well as high protein energy bars and snacks.
  • Parents have shared information about Sunbutter and Wowbutter products, as well as Avalanche high protein energy bars, which are a nut-free ( )  
  • The District contacted local grocery stores about our change of practice and has been notified by Big Y that they will be offering a sale price of $2.00 off each 16 ounce jar of three different varieties of Sunbutter from October 3, 2013 through November 27, 2013.  This is a wonderful example of how fortunate we are to have community partners to work with us in this and many other endeavors. 

As additional information or suggestions become available, we will continue to share them in an effort to help everyone find options that will allow children to continue healthy eating habits while abiding by the new guidelines.

I recognize that this is a major shift in practice and appreciate your cooperation.  Our students’ safety is a top priority, and with the continuing rise in the prevalence of life-threatening nut allergies this is an important guideline to implement.  Many thanks for your partnership in these efforts.

Maria Geryk, Superintendent of Schools