WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today introduced the Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act, which would require school food personnel to complete a food allergy training, so that they are better equipped to prevent and respond to emergency situations involving allergic food reactions.

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Over the past two decades, the number of children with food allergies in the U.S. has more than doubled. Now, more than eight percent of children, about two students per classroom, have food allergies, and more than 15 percent of them will have an allergic reaction at school. Because common allergens are often present in school meals, school food personnel must understand how to prevent, identify, and respond to a food-related allergic reaction.

“When parents drop their kids off at school, they should have the peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe environment with personnel that are trained to look out for their child’s health needs. Similarly, students should be focused on their schoolwork, not if they’ll have a potentially deadly allergic reaction at lunchtime,” said Durbin. “Today, I introduced the Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act to ensure that school food personnel will be well-equipped to act when a child is experiencing an allergic reaction.”

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“With so many children eating their breakfast and lunch at school, parents deserve to know that their school’s staff is aware of and well-trained on potential food allergies,” said Duckworth. “One of the reasons I’m introducing the Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act with Senator Durbin is to help ensure school staff are better prepared to handle a wide array of food allergies so children can have their nutritional needs met and parents don’t have to worry.”

Specifically, the Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act would:

  • Require National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) personnel to complete a food allergy training;
  • Require FNS to make available food allergy trainings to personnel under the Special Milk Program (SMP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); and
  • Require FNS to create and incorporate food allergy information into its nutrition education materials for participants under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act is endorsed by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE); American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI); American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP); Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA); American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI); and the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).

A one-pager on the Protecting Children with Food Allergies Act can be found here.

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