Thursday, September 10, 2009


Chelsea Elementary School / Loblaws Peanut -Free products

The following is my second instalment in BloggerAid Changing The Face Of Famine View and Review Program. I personally started the sampling with the low fat Blue Menu Peanut-Free Whole Wheat Bran Bites with Maple and a cup of tea and I can unequivocally state that not only did they hit the spot as a late afternoon pick me up but they were delicious and the subtle maple flavoring was a nice added touch. Dani my five year old niece entering kindergarten had the peanut-free animal crackers and told her mommy she would like them in her lunch box every time. Some of the big boys in the neighborhood who sampled the Loblaw's peanut-free Dipped and Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars said that not only were they great tasting but in a mock-up blind fold test could not tell the difference between the peanut-free brand and their regular brand. With a good cross selection of samplers the consensus is that they Loblaws Peanut-Free products passed the test in flavor and taste. 5star!

However, last week I went to visit one of the schools that I taught at within the Western Quebec School Board. Chelsea School is located in the municipality of Chelsea, Quebec, in the beautiful picturesque Gatineau Hills. It is a school committed first and foremost to the children that they serve. The purpose of my visit was to donate the rest of the Peanut-Free products that Loblaws had so generously sent to me (see previous post) and to meet with Ralph Mason the principal who was graciously going to distribute the products to Peanut- free classrooms . Those rooms that had a child in it with a peanut allergy.

When I taught there in early 2000 the school did have a Peanut-Free program in place to accommodate children with peanut allergies. Ralph mentioned that he was extremely concerned with the rise in numbers of allergy afflicted children at Chelsea school , in particular, peanut, egg, and milk. For him as a principal it means making drastic changes to existing policies and possibly going totally Peanut-Free throughout the entire school. However, this would require much dialogue and debate between himself and concerned parents on both sides of the issue.

More and more schools are banning peanut products as the number of kids that have this potentially threatening allergy has dramatically grown. At Chelsea, out of nearly 300 students 4 have severe peanut allergies (not to mention the number of students there with milk and egg allergies). However, with parents on both sides of the fence totally banning these products leaves the school smack in the middle of this controversial issue. What to do?

To totally ban these products can be seen as an infringement on the rights of parents and children without allergies. They believe that banning any specific food group is not teaching children how to live and grow in the real world, instead children should be taught to be on guard for the possibility of an allergic reaction and should be taught skills to deal with the situation. Thus, most schools have a workable compromise in place, after all, allergies are serious and should not be taken lightly.

Peanut and some other foods can cause the body to go into anaphylactic shock, a life threatening condition where a person's blood pressure and their air way narrows. This condition can normally be relieved with a dose of adrenaline, called an epinephrine pen.

At Chelsea school medication is held and dispensed at the office only. Ralph is looking into possibly having these epi-pens in the classrooms (in a safe and secure place) of those designated children that need them. This however will need discussion and negotiation between the parents and the school. In my opinion Chelsea has a very good policy in place that respects all parents and especially the children with these special needs.
Kindergarten classes are generally designated Peanut-Free because these young children have a tendency to put most things into their mouths. Classrooms with a peanut allergy child in it are designated as a Peanut-Free room. The child with the peanut allergy has his/her picture posted, a Peanut-Free logo is put on the outside classroom door and parents and classmates are asked to provide a Peanut-Free lunch kit in respect to the child with the peanut allergy. All classrooms do their part to reduce trash, go green and do their part to safe-guard against peanut allergies or children with allergies in general. One way of alleviating this problem is that all children eat their snacks at their desks before going out to recess. All trash is then collected in a contained area and students are asked to wash their hands and desk before going outside to play. Lunch is also eaten at their desk and similar precautions are taken. In common areas where tables are used these are frequently washed daily and again common sense precautions are stressed.

The bottom line is that you just cannot monitor what each child eats for breakfast or outside of home or school nor can you monitor every ones lunch kit. Schools are trying to do their part by educating the school population as a whole and putting policies in place to safe-guard children with allergies and above all to ask parents to diligently read labels.

President's Choice freshly baked Peanut- Free Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies .

Companies like Loblaws are also taking a leading role in producing and providing these products and making them easily accessible. It is just as easy for busy working parents to find these Peanut-Free products and replace them for their regular brand of cookies, crackers and granola bars. These products are comparable in price and the taste testing kids gave these products a thumbs up in taste and texture.In other words they are tha same, without the peanut! As always, there is nothing as safe, good or as nutritious as baking something yourself, but how convinient to be able to purchase Peanut-Free products such as the Peanut-Free Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip cookie that can easily be served as an after school snack. Also, how easy is it to include an individually wrapped Peanut-Free Crispy Rice Bar as a recess snack in a lunch kit making it a worry free product, just in case. I even used the Peanut-Free products in an after dinner parfait for dessert. Simply layer a decorative glass with a layer of jello, crushed Peanut-Free cookie or flavored Bran crackers and top with a layer of tasty yogurt, garnish with the peanut -free cookie. Voila, easy-peezee, pretty and Peanut-free. Once again a huge thank you to Loblaws for their Peanut-Free products. Thank you to the tasters who gave a huge thumbs up for flavor and texture of these products and to Ralph Mason who will distribute some of these Peanut-Free products to the classrooms with kids who have peanut allergies at Chelsea Elementary School.

For more information on Loblaws Peanut-Free products and other products contact

1 comment:

giz said...

We'll have to start calling you IPSOS Rita pretty soon :). What a great review and a wonderful representation of the work at BloggerAid - Changing the Face of Famine.