On October 6th, elementary students in the after school program at Center Elementary School in Hanover looked on in surprise as the box of crackers offered to them turned out to actually contain a carrot. As several students asked why a carrot would be in a box of crackers, this provided the perfect opportunity to begin an original lesson plan on peanut allergies taught by FSU Food and Nutrition Intern, Penny Tallent.
Students quickly caught on that many packaged foods can contain ingredients we cannot see. For students with peanut allergies, this is an important concept to get across. During the lesson, students learned what a food allergy is and how it can affect people. They practiced some important nutrition label reading skills, to help them decide if a food item could have hidden peanuts. Students also learned what they can do to help other students with peanut allergies, including not sharing food, proper hand washing, and not bringing in foods that contain peanuts.
To test their awareness of foods that could possibly contain hidden peanuts, the children took part in a game. Pictures of various foods were passed around, and students were asked if their item might contain peanuts. Students came up with many unique ways in which various food items could contain hidden peanuts. They were also given an opportunity to share stories of people they knew with different food allergies, and some of the things they did to help prevent them from getting sick.
For more food allergy education, the John Stalker Institute offers a Food Allergies Workshop to Go and an online Food Allergies professional development course. Be sure to also visit the Food Allergies page in the JSI Resource Center and the Wellness Solution for Massachusetts website for more information on developing your nutrition program and school wellness policy.
~ blog provided by Penny Tallent, FSU Food and Nutrition Student