Student's Allergies Change Menu At One Region 8 School

December 14, 2004 – Posted at 4:30 p.m. CST

MALDEN -- The debate over which is better...crunchy or creamy peanut butter may never be resolved. But at one Region 8 school, the fight isn't even happening.

"We have to keep the safety of the students in mind first and foremost and the teachers and the parents have the attitude if it was their own child they would want the same thing done that we at the school district have done," said Elementary Principal Annette Hux.

The Malden School District is unique to Region 8. One thing you won't find in the cafeteria, peanuts.

"We have eliminated all the peanut products in our building. Peanut by-products and peanut oil we don't use in our cafeterias," said Assistant Superintendent Joe Scott, "The reason behind this is we have students who are allergic to peanuts and peanut by-products. We even have students that are allergic to the aroma of peanuts, so we've had to eliminate it campus wide."

There are six students in the Malden School District who have peanut allergies. Some so severe, that even the smell can make them sick.

"I can shut the door in here but I can't keep the aroma out. So that's the number one reason. We can watch what the student's ingest but we can't watch what they smell," said Scott.

But the school staff is prepared for the worst. Teachers with students who have peanut allergies are equipped with doses of epinephrine in case of a reaction. Symptoms can include choking, difficulty breathing, tightening in the throat and chest or loss of consciousness. And with more than a thousand students in the district, it takes everyone working together to keep them safe.

"The parents have been very supportive. We have sent notices home through newsletters and when a new student enrolls, we give them a sheet of paper with a peanut warning like the signs posted on the door," said Hux.

It's not just the classrooms that are peanut-free. Even the administration building, which is about a block away from the elementary school is a peanut-free zone.