GORHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — The Department of Education offers guidelines and advice to school officials on dealing with food allergies, but a spokesperson said the decision lies completely with school districts.
Jamie Edwards wanted to do everything she could to keep her son Jack safe in his Gorham elementary school, so she reached out to the school's nutritionist about cutting peanut butter sandwiches from school lunches.
He responded in an email saying that the DOE had advised not to create a false sense of security that there would be no exposure to nuts. Instead, the school stands by its "allergy safe" policy, which instead educates parents, students, and teachers on the risks associated with allergies and how to prevent them.
"We will do everything we can to prevent foods from being brought in, but what we're really focused on is the education piece," Gorham Schools' superintendent Heather Perry said.
Perry said their policy was developed a few years ago, with input from parents, nurses, doctors and school board members. She said if a child comes into the district with allergies, they speak with the parent to determine the best way to move forward.
Edwards said it's not enough. "The uncrustable sandwich, which is peanut butter and jelly, it's a pre-packaged sandwich, was a compromise when another parent asked for peanut butter to not be served. The second week of school he was sat next to a kid with an uncrustable sandwich at the peanut-free table."
Other schools in surrounding towns have cut peanut butter sandwiches from their lunch programs. Perry said even if they did that, they couldn't stop parents from sending their own kids to school with nuts.
Edwards says she doesn't want to force this on other parents, she just wants to school to stop serving peanut butter in its lunch program.