Nutrition Labeling and Allergies during COVID-19
While the entire nation has been turned upside down from COVID-19, one thing that has not changed is the pivotal role that school meals play in the lives of our community. Over 22 million kids depend on school meals every day, making school nutrition professionals essential to our community. With social distancing measures and efforts in place to protect our health, curbside, grab n’ go, delivery meals are now a mainstay of K-12 meal service.
Whether your school food program is operating curbside or bus route deliveries of grab ’n go meals, it is crucial to ensure that we are labeling and providing transparency to what our kids are being served, specifically for those with food allergens. Food Allergies, much like ourselves, haven’t gone anywhere.
During this time it may be hard to identify students who have an allergy, and we certainly don’t expect to cater to every single need with limited time and resources. The best thing we can do is offer nutritious meals to our communities with proper labeling, to help our parents and families decide the best meal choice for themselves and their children.
Below are some suggestions to try and keep your communities healthy and allergen-free during this time:
- Try to identify the most common allergens in your district when developing your menus
- Prepare foods, like peanut butter sandwiches, separate from other food stations to avoid allergen contamination
- Offer at least one or two other meal options Label allergens on the packaging of the meals (Download a template here!)
- Send notifications to parents of meal options beforehand to help them find the option best suited for their child with allergies
- Provide reminders to parents to double-check food labels
- Set up a hotline for parents to call ahead of time to provide you with a medical alert for their child and to let them know which location to provide such meal
Let’s stay healthy and keep feeding our families great meals!