COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Snack time in school is always a fun time, but some students might be allergic and local school nutritionists talk about the safety steps they take.
“Sharing is caring” is often used as a way to spread kindness in the classroom. But sometimes, sharing food could be dangerous if one student has a food allergy,” Director of School Health Columbia County Schools Lisa Whitlock said.
“I mean with about 29,000 students, we’re gonna have an allergic reaction at some point.”
Columbia County Director of School Health Lisa Whitlock tells NewsChannel 6 in a situation like this, Columbia County staff is equipped to help.
“The first part is to recognize that there is an allergic reaction happening. The second is to check the healthcare plan or the student database to see if the child has an allergy, and then of course, to grab the Epipen,” Whitlock said.
She says Columbia County Schools follow strict measures to try and make sure no kid experiences a traumatic incident.
“Our staff are trained annually on food allergies, and as needed. And what we do is– for example with the peanut butter allergies- -we will prepare those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a separate location that has been sanitized, our employees are trained to change gloves, wash their hands, use different utensils,” Columbia County Schools Nutrition Coordinator and Registered Dietician Lauren Belcher said.
But they say, there are times where it could be a bit more difficult.
“Because no matter what age you are, you can be exposed to an allergen that– maybe– you’re not even aware that was in the food, you forgot to ask. And that’s why we have Epipen’s in our school district,” Whitlock said.
Nutrition and health leaders say their job is important.
“It’s a passion that I have to make sure that every single student has ample opportunity to eat with us and feel safe in doing so, and so their safety is our top priority, and it also makes us proud to be able to serve these students that ultimately might feel unsafe in other locations, but they feel safe when they come to school and that’s important to us,” Belcher said.