FOOD ALLERGIES & FIELD TRIPS
Just like managing a student’s food allergy in the classroom planning, awareness, and caution are necessary when attending a field trip.
A reaction can occur on the bus or other transport, during meal time, and at the location of the field trip. Look over these guidelines for ensuring a safe field trip for your students with food allergies:
Planning the field trip guidelines:
- Speak with the school nurse or office administrator about packing emergency medication in a first aid kit and properly labeled.
- Plan to carry necessary medication at all times during the field trip.
- Add information on the field trip permission slip about what foods should not be packed for snacks or meals due to food allergy concerns. (Example: No peanut butter or peanut products allowed).
- Provide a list of healthy snack options to parents to pack beforehand. If eating out, provide parents of students with food restrictions a list of purchase options. Sack lunches should always be allowed.
- Pack hand wipes so all students can wipe hands after eating if restroom facilities with soap and water are not available. Example when facilities may not be available: Nature hike or visiting a local farm
- Learn how to treat a food allergy with an epinephrine auto-injector or teach another adult who is willing to take this responsibility and is attending the field trip.
- Keep all lunch bags together to prevent eating before meal time.
- Contact staff at the field trip location to discuss food allergy safety and how it is handled at their location. Ask whether running water and bathrooms are easily accessible, whether eating areas are clean and free of the allergens you need to avoid, and if cooking is done at the event ask about their food preparation practices, ingredients, and serving practices. You may need to ask for special meals, substitution ingredients, and other changes to their standard protocol in order to protect your students. If students are going to a remote location for outdoor education discuss emergency care protocol including whether a nurse will be present at all times, how a student is transported to a hospital if needed, how long it takes to transport, and if there is telephone access at the site.
- Talk with parents of all students with food allergies to answer their questions, invite them to chaperone, and to ask questions about food allergy safety.
Bus or other transport guidelines
- Inform the driver of the food allergy and discuss how the driver has been taught to handle an emergency.
- Inform students that no food or beverages other than water is allowed on the bus (an exception would be for students with diabetes or other condition that requires eating).
- Ask whether the driver has a communication device to alert his office and call 9-1-1 if necessary.
- Keep the medical kit on board within reach rather than inside a suitcase, brief case, box, or outer compartment of the vehicle.
- Remind students of behavior expectations before entering the bus prior to departure leaving school and returning to school.
During the field trip guidelines
- Carry emergency medication with you at all times.
- Carry a cell phone with you at all times.
- Provide staff at the location with a visual of students with food allergies – you can introduce them to the staff (kitchen staff, directors and/or leaders of the event). This creates a web of support for the students.
- Due to mistakes easily made with packing lunches be sure students with food allergies have a safe place to eat away from allergens. Example: If you set a no peanut butter or peanut products guideline and one student brings a Snicker’s bar ask that student to either refrain from eating the candy bar or sit away from students with peanut allergies. This student with the candy bar should be instructed to wash hands carefully after eating and to dispose of wrappers in the proper trash receptacle.
- Be aware of bullying in the form of teasing or isolating students with food allergies. If noticed then proactively engage all students in proper behavior.
- Carry emergency medication to the lunch area.
- Bring hand wipes with you to the eating location.
- Show students where they are to wash up after eating – a good practice to prevent contracting viruses and bacteria as well as removal of food allergen proteins.