MENTONE — The Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation Board of Trustees is faced with a difficult decision as members contemplate a new food allergy policy.
The policy was a major topic of discussion at the regular meeting, held Monday, Aug. 10, at Mentone Elementary School.
Because of the dangers of peanut allergies, the board is contemplating going peanut-free. Several parents were there who had reservations about a completely peanut-free environment, including TVSC employee Lindsey Smith and her husband. Smith said her daughter, now a sixth-grader at Tippecanoe Valley Middle School, is unable to process milk proteins, a potentially life-threatening allergy different from lactose intolerance.
Smith’s daughter is also dangerously allergic to a list of other common foods. However, peanut butter is one of the few things she is able to eat safely.
Several other parents attended whose children have peanut allergies, which can be triggered by simply touching a surface that has peanut oil on it. One mother commented that her son was once hospitalized because a little girl tagged him on the playground after having eaten peanut butter for lunch.
When a person is allergic to peanuts, an allergic reaction causes his or her throat to swell shut. Board members asked about epi-pens, which parents responded buy just enough time to get a child to the hospital.
One parent suggested a packers-only table, where students who need to pack a lunch can eat foods like peanut butter, but away from students who may have a dangerous reaction. Other parents tentatively agreed, provided teachers are careful to ensure students wash their hands after handling peanut products.
Other suggestions included a cooler and microwave for students who need to pack, so they can have a hot lunch.
The board did not make any decisions, but will continue to discuss the policy amongst themselves and with parents to come up with a solution suitable to everyone.
TVSC Superintendent Brett Boggs announced that this year’s World Class Teacher Award recipient is Ashley DuBois and the Pillar Award recipient for support staff is Melanie Vanlaningham. He also acknowledged the 2015 Distinguished Alumni class.
Boggs also noted that the Tippecanoe Valley High School graduation rate, which had originally been reported at 77 percent, was amended to 85 percent.
The board approved the hiring of six new staff members, two new extracurricular assignments and six resignations. Ben Baker has made the decision to step down from his paid coaching position due to a work schedule that will not allow him to fill the position reliably. Ethan Brumbaugh has agreed to step up and replace Baker, who will fill a volunteer assistant coaching position.
The board also heard from nutritionist Kalin MacKillop, who oversees food services for several schools in the area. MacKillop explained several USDA regulations, including offer vs. serve, serving requirements. She also explained the Smart Snacks program, which places strict regulations on what schools can serve in vending machines, during fundraisers, via a la carte and at extracurricular activities.
MacKillop also explained that, while schools are not required to participate in the government lunch program, most schools do for the funding. Otherwise, she said, school lunches would cost up to $5 a day and many schools would have to eradicate free and reduced lunches to cover the cost of the lunch program.