June 24, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Change in schools in Basse-Saint-Laurent: Nuts and peanuts now allowed in lunch boxes

Change in schools in Basse-Saint-Laurent: Nuts and peanuts now allowed in lunch boxes

Three guns | Since the beginning of the school year, nuts, peanuts and other allergens are now allowed in the lunch boxes and snacks of students in many schools in Bas-Saint-Laurent, who are now focusing on prevention rather than prohibition.

At Litalien Primary School in Trois-Pistols, teacher Annie Charron is especially alert during snack time.

She keeps her fourth-graders at their desks, instead of letting them roam freely around the classroom.

Those with allergies should wash their hands at the faucet before and after snack, with wipes available for other students in the class.

For example, children with allergens in their snack from a home-baked muffin should also wash their hands and rinse their mouth after eating.

“At the beginning of the year, I admit it worried me a little bit, at least with the bans, I said we had a little more control over it,” the teacher said. But then I told myself that in real life you can't control everything. This is a good thing, through education, we can make them more aware.

Pandemic, a lever

The same rules apply at mealtimes, at daycare. Marie-Diane Pelletier, head of the daycare service, said the pandemic helped drive this change because many habits, such as hand washing and disinfecting tables, were already well established.

These are “simple” measures to put in place, she says, because it's not always easy to oversee twenty-plus lunch boxes in the middle of the day. “This has created a false sense of security among parents,” says M.me Pelletier.

Turn in Bas-Saint-Laurent

All schools in the Fleuve-et-des-Lacs school service center reintroduced allergens at the beginning of the year in cooperation with regional public health authorities. Other service centers in the region followed suit.

They were inspired by guidelines developed by Allergies Quebec and the Montreal Regional Public Health Department, which have been in place for several years.

More than 150 foods can cause allergies, so it's impossible to guarantee an allergy-free environment, it's argued.

However, some allergic children fear these changes. “It worries me a little bit,” says Alexis, a sixth-grader who can't eat peanuts.

However, the School Service Center indicates that the policy of banning allergens in school does not affect the number of allergic reactions in the school environment.

For his part, the director of the Litealian school, Jaimie Plourde, confirms that parents of children with allergies have responded well to these changes. A “minority” of them need reassurance, but so far in the seven primary schools she oversees, everything is going smoothly, she said.

“The key is communication,” says Mme Plourde, she is allergic to peanuts and fully accepts this approach. “For me, it was a no-brainer.”

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