The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School


The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School


The Official Student Media of Blue Valley North High School


Food Allergy Issues


In the Blue Valley School district, allergen-free tables are provided to students who need them through eighth grade. Starting in high school, these tables are removed from the lunchroom. The district changes how allergies are treated as kids age and assume more responsibility for themselves. Without specific allergen-free areas, students have to be prepared for a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Junior Jake McRae has had food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs for his whole life, but peanuts are a special case for him because he has a rare condition that makes him react to airborne traces of them. This specific allergy has presented challenges at school in the past. Once in middle school, McRae had an allergic reaction, and the school blamed him for not being at one of the two already in-use peanut-free tables.

“I was a kid and I feel like a lot of blame was placed on me because I wanted to sit with my friends at their table and free table because other people had taken up that table,” McRae said.

But these peanut-free tables aren’t options in high school. Senior Quinten Schafer said the district is changing how it manages allergies in middle and high school.

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“In high school, it’s a lot more on the student, which I guess makes sense because we are a lot older,” Schafer said. “The school doesn’t really have any role in your everyday life as a student,” Schafer said.

According to senior Sam Frager, who learned he has celiac disease (an immune reaction to gluten) in the last few years, the district does a good job of managing student allergies.

“I think Blue Valley deals with them very well. They take it seriously,” Frager said.

Frager brings his lunch to school every day to avoid contaminants and said he appreciates how the district treats allergies because it is easy for his doctors and family to communicate with the district. Because of this, Frager feels safe at school knowing that everyone is aware of his allergy and ready to act if an emergency arises.

“I just think that communication with my family to the school and doctors is good,” Frager said.

For Schafer, the district has been good about managing allergies through 504 plans — which are designed to help students with special conditions. Schafer is allergic to peanuts and had allergic reactions to tree nuts until about a year ago. One of the guidelines in his 504 plan requires teachers to tell his family if there will be food for a class event or on a school trip.

“It depends on the teacher, on the event,” Schafer said. “Sometimes, yes [they communicate to us] — not always. We have had to pressure them a lot because we don’t always receive notifications or there’s not always very good communication. So it’s mostly just me managing it. It’s not terrible for me. I know some people have a lot stronger allergies, but mine was pretty bad for a while. I’ve never really had a problem with it, but it’s always kind of been on me to be careful.”

The school nurse is trained to use EpiPens, and teachers typically receive students’ 504 plans. However, Schafer talks with educators at the beginning of each year just to make them aware of his allergies and said teachers’ communication can help students with allergies feel more comfortable.

“Depending on the person, I guess [allergies are] not like a super critical thing, but it’s definitely something that shouldn’t be taken lightly or shouldn’t just be forgotten about,” Schafer said. “Even just reaching out to help the student and also their family feel a lot more comfortable with the situation and have a lot better experience overall… The district has done a great job, but I think a lot of the teachers don’t keep it in their minds or they brush it off.”

On one band trip, students stopped at a restaurant. Without “updates that would be useful in terms of having an allergy and planning to eat food,” Schafer said he couldn’t really prepare. Although the company confirmed the food would be safe for him to eat that day, Schafer added that he always carries a granola bar or other snack with him just in case he isn’t that lucky.

McRae said some of his teachers aren’t aware of his allergy or how severe it is until he talks to them.

“I don’t feel like a lot of them end up knowing about [the allergy] until I talk to them about it,” McRae said

McRae also feels that many of his fellow students do not take his allergy serious enough.

“I would say there’s like a lot of people that joke about it. I feel like they should know that it’s like, more serious and they like think like I could die.”

Schafer said it’s important to listen to others’ safety needs.

“If you’re seriously uncomfortable to have people with peanuts near you, just definitely talk to your friends about it,” Schafer said. “I know my perspective might be different having had an allergy, but [not eating peanuts is] definitely something that I would do for a friend if they asked, and I think it’s important to take that step of reaching out. If they wouldn’t do that, then I might try to get them to understand how serious it actually is.”

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About the Contributor
Cash Durbin
Cash Durbin, Staff Writer
Cash Durbin is a junior and staff writer of “The North Star.” This is his first year on staff. He is looking to cover sports and student life. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoy soccer, tennis and coaching. His is excited to take photos and research extracurriculars around the school.

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