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Letter to Ferndale Families Regarding Food Allergies and Changes in How We Distribute and Share Food

August 20, 2009

Dear Parent/Guardian;

Recently our state enacted legislation to address the increasing number of students with severe food allergies that require measures to be taken to ensure a greater degree of safety while they are at school. In response to these new legislative requirements, the Ferndale School District is changing some procedures regarding food distribution at school. The changes will significantly reduce the distribution of food from staff to students and the sharing of food between students.

The largest change in procedure will be that staff will no longer distribute food to students during the school day except as follows. At the elementary level, we are attempting to eliminate times when the eating of snacks might put a student in a vulnerable situation. Elementary staff must obtain principal approval prior to distribution of food to students and food must also meet all of the following standards:

• Be in accordance with Individual Health Care/504/IEP/behavioral/or other health related plans
• Be educationally significant
• Be packaged commercially with listed ingredients
• Must fall within district's nutrition policy

Middle and High School staff may distribute food to students if it meets all four of the
above standards. It is understood that these procedures will be enforced in the school
building to the extent possible during the instructional day, but there may be
situations (e.g., community rental of facilities, athletic events, bus travel) that are
beyond full control by the district.

These guidelines will also impact food that students wish to share with their class. We request that celebrations only include food that meet the criteria mentioned above and has principal approval prior to distribution. Following these nutritional guidelines will help teach our children the importance of making healthy food choices for life-long good health, and have the added bonus of improving safety for those in our community with life threatening health conditions.

Again, we understand the dilemma of changing practices that we've personally participated in as students and practiced as parents/educators, but this is a necessary change. Those of us who have worked on this issue for the last two years understand that this may upset some staff and/or families by going against long-standing school practices of special snack events (e.g., birthday cupcakes from home). This is a change that we must make to more effectively protect our students with serious food allergies. Thank you for you cooperation and support in this endeavor. Please call me at 383-9221 or your school nurse once the school year begins if you have concerns or thoughts on this change.

Sincerely,

Michael Berres, Ph.D

Director, Special Services

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