This is a rant. Hopefully a polite one. And hopefully one with which you can relate. Generally I keep such opinions to myself but I am willing to throw myself under the proverbial bus for this one.
Earlier I came across this article in thestar.com that states that peanut butter substitute spreads, such as WowButter® are no longer allowed in York Region classrooms.
Wait. What? It’s not enough we’ve banned peanut butter but now substitutes are forbidden??
WowButter® was among the first of these options to pop up on grocery store shelves and my kids have been enjoying it for the last couple of years in their school lunches. It is a great option, whether in a tortilla rolled around a banana, or with jam between two slices of bread and I always send a copy of the label when I pack it for a meal.
Our schools haven’t directly notified us of any such ban but I imagine it is forthcoming and certainly, we will comply, just as we have with respect to peanut butter. But isn’t this taking it a bit too far? What’s next? No jam because it may have been beside the substitute-peanut-butter container in the cupboard? Let’s face it, if it comes from home, you have no idea which foods have come into contact with each other.
And what of other allergies? What if a kid comes to school with pet hair all over his sweater? My son is allergic to cats. Not deathly allergic, but enough that we finally had to find our cat a new home after being with us for 12 years. Does that mean that the other child has to be moved to another classroom. Or that he has to get rid of his pet?
Let me be clear. I am not diminishing the severity of a nut allergy. But this is no longer about that issue. This is taking it a step further and banning a look-alike.
While none of my children have a very severe food allergy or sensitivity, I do know children who do and I sympathize with them AND their parents. I really do. However, it has been my experience that those children, by virtue of being trained by their parents for years, know to ask questions about food with which they may come into contact and to avoid it. Besides, is there a worry that kids are going to touch or eat someone else’s sandwich?
By now the point has been driven home that peanut butter is not allowed in schools. We SO get that. So is the concern then that with the appearance of these new alternatives someone will try to sneak in the real deal? I mean, come on! Not to mention, these peanut butter substitutes are probably the closest thing to peanut butter that peanut-allergic children can enjoy. And now this is being taken away from them, too?
I can understand the pressure on the schools, to some degree, to put measures in place to protect the well-being of their students. However, with so many external sources affecting the health of our children these days, does the onus not fall on the parents to equip their children with the means and the knowledge to make safe choices? Where exactly do we draw the line?