School nutrition team members have been serving free meals to students since the start of the pandemic—a whopping 300,000+ meals since March 2020! In addition to whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, each meal is also packed with care, taking into account the many food allergies that are common in today’s nutritional landscape.
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. People can be allergic to almost any food, but most food allergy reactions are caused by eight foods: eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat and soy.
“One in 13 school-age children have a food allergy; that’s two students per classroom,” said registered dietitian Marisa Bellanca, who serves as the district’s school nutrition coordinator. “The commonality of food allergies is why it is so important for us to know where they may be hidden in the food we serve.”
All eight of the common allergens and safety protocols for each were covered in a recent training for members of each building’s school nutrition staff. It gave staff a chance to ask questions about which foods may have trace amounts of the allergens.
“Student health and safety is at the forefront of what we do so we are proud to be able to offer this important training for our staff members,” said Director of School Nutrition Janice Phillips. “Having a registered dietitian is a great asset to our team.”
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