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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Managing Peanut Allergies

Each school year, many school food authorities (SFAs) seek guidance to assist them with developing policies and plans that address keeping students with food allergies safe in the school environment.

        Under pressure from parents of children with peanut allergies, some schools consider banning peanut butter and all products containing peanuts.  Such an effort would require a long-term commitment and cooperation by the entire school community, including students, parents, teachers, school personnel, substitute personnel, and the school cafeteria.  In addition, a daily monitoring system would need to be implemented to assure that the offending food never enters the school building, a nearly impossible task.

        These schools would also need to consider the impact the ban may have on the population of children who rely on peanut butter as one of their major sources of daily calories and nutrients.  Many parents prefer to prepare and send peanut butter sandwiches to school for their child's lunch, as it is an economical source of protein and can be held safely at room temperature for an extended period of time.

        In most instances, banning products that contain peanuts is not a practical or effective approach for dealing with this very serious problem.  The Child Nutrition Program Administration Office has researched the issue and offers the following suggestions to help schools manage food allergies in the cafeteria and the classroom.  We encourage SFAs to develop and implement guidelines and educational programs to prevent a child's potential exposure to peanut products.  Some suggestions for developing guidelines and training would include:

  1. Establish a food allergy support team that includes the child, parents, principal, school nurse, teachers, food service director, and school personnel to develop an emergency plan to implement if an allergic reaction occurs in school.
  2. Train all school personnel about food allergies and the importance of acting immediately if a child appears to be exhibiting signs or symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  3. Conduct practice drills periodically to determine if the emergency plan is effective.  Involve all necessary personnel.
  4. Avoid cross-contamination, i.e., use separate knives for peanut butter and jelly.
  5. Review food labels for all products purchased and served by the cafeteria.  Manufacturers continuously refine and improve food products. Food product labels must be read each time they are purchased, as peanuts can be added in a variety of forms and are frequently added to increase the protein content of foods.
  6. Establish "peanut free" zones, e.g., table in the cafeteria, without isolating the child with food allergies.
  7. Discourage food trading.
  8. Discourage sharing snacks and goodies in the classroom that are from outside sources.

        The Child Nutrition Program Administration Team has copies of "The School Food Allergy Program," a comprehensive program for managing food allergies at school, available for loan to SFAs.  Several years ago, approximately 10,000 food allergy posters produced by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) were distributed to all SFAs.  The poster is written in English and Spanish and assists school personnel in identifying common food allergens and recognizing the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions, and emphasizes the importance of immediate intervention.  Some additional posters are still available by contacting Dechelle Johnson at

        If you have any questions, or if you would like to borrow resource materials, please contact Paula Tyner-Doyle at (518) 432-5068 or Sandra Sheedy at (518) 473-1525.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. 

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


For Nondiscrimination Statement translations, click here.

Los demás programas de asistencia nutricional del FNS, las agencias estatales y locales, y sus beneficiarios secundarios, deben publicar el siguiente Aviso de No Discriminación:

De conformidad con la Ley Federal de Derechos Civiles y los reglamentos y políticas de derechos civiles del Departamento de Agricultura de los EE. UU. (USDA, por sus siglas en ingles), se prohíbe que el USDA, sus agencias, oficinas, empleados e instituciones que participan o administran programas del USDA discriminen sobre la base de raza, color, nacionalidad, sexo, discapacidad, edad, o en represalia o venganza por actividades previas de derechos civiles en algún programa o actividad realizados o financiados por el USDA.

Las personas con discapacidades que necesiten medios alternativos para la comunicación de la información del programa (por ejemplo, sistema Braille, letras grandes, cintas de audio, lenguaje de seas americano, etc.), deben ponerse en contacto con la agencia (estatal o local) en la que solicitaron los beneficios. Las personas sordas, con dificultades de audición o discapacidades del habla pueden comunicarse con el USDA por medio del Federal Relay Service [Servicio Federal de Retransmisión] al (800) 877-8339. Además, la información del programa se puede proporcionar en otros idiomas.

Para presentar una denuncia de discriminación, complete el Formulario de Denuncia de Discriminación del Programa del USDA, (AD-3027) que está disponible en linea en: y en cualquier oficina del USDA, o bien escriba una carta dirigida al USDA e incluya en la carta toda la información solicitada en el formulario. Para solicitar una copia del formulario de denuncia, llame al (866) 632-9992. Haga llegar su formulario lleno o carta al USDA por:

(1)     correo: U.S. Department of Agriculture
         Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
         1400 Independence Avenue, SW
         Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; o

(3)     correo electró

Esta institución es un proveedor que ofrece igualdad de oportunidades.