My kid just turned 13 months yesterday so I'm thinking it's a tad premature to be worried about this issue but I'm already starting to stress about the thought of sending her to school.
I'm not worried that the curriculum and public system will fail her (it will, but likely not enough to bother me). I'm not worried she have to deal with bad teachers and mean kids (she will, I did, it sucks but I don't think it can be avoided). I'm not worried about her safety in the classroom or on the playground (we live in a safe city in a safe country and pathetically people are way too freaked-out about American law suits to let kids play "dangerously" anymore anyway). I'm not worried she won't make friends or have a good time or learn some useful stuff.
I'm worried about what to pack her for lunch.
My friend's daughter started junior kindergarten this year and they sent home a disturbingly long list of items that are BANNED from the classroom. As in, send your child with any of these items and we will take them away, throw them out in a biohazardous bin and your child will go hungry. All to keep the other kid(s?) safe from LIFE THREATENING allergies. The list includes the obvious total nut ban but also: anything with whole wheat/gluten, anything with eggs and anything with dairy. They also provided a helpful (?) list of recommended items such as very expensive rice crackers and other gluten-free items.
My friend is a single low-income mother who's picky eater lives on eggs, cheese and Cheerios. So she's SOL on the snack front.
Now, lest it seem I'm unsympathetic to children with allergies, I was the loser weezy kid with all the allergies (dairy, cats, dust, fish, etc.) who had to bring her own dessert (Twinkies - nothing harmful there because it contains no actual food) to birthday parties. I also have a serious full-anaphylaxis to salmon. I've never needed it but I carry an adrenaline kit with me everywhere just in case. But here's the thing: none of this stuff will kill me if someone else is eating it. I understand that the peanut/nut thing can actually (though very rarely) cause serious issues based solely on proximity but when the hell did these other allergens go airborne? Is anaphylaxis to wheat that common these days?
So far my kid seems to have dodged the allergen issue (knock wood) but I can't believe that even if she had a problem I would try to have it banned from the entire school. I would definitely make sure she knew that she was not supposed to eat other kids food and tell the teacher if I was really worried but hell, if my kid is allergic to cats should I make all the kids with cats take showers and wash their clothes before entering the building?
Make no mistake, I'm a control-freak so I understand the impulse to try to protect your child from harm using every means possible but what the hell do these people think their kids are going to do on field trips, when they go to high school, in a mall food court, etc. But maybe I'm blaming the wrong people. Maybe the lawsuit-paranoid schools are to blame. It just kills me that risk-adverse decisions like this one, made with no evidence or logic to support them, will likely do more harm to the kids whose parents can't afford the time or money to be able to find nutritious food that fits the rules (and that their kids will actually eat). I'm willing to bet Twinkies haven't been banned.