The Commission Scolaire de Montreal has implemented a new policy on what is allowed in school lunches.
The largest school board in Montreal has decided to lift its ban on common food allergens. The CSDM says no foods are banned and students will no longer have their lunch boxes policed by monitors.
The CSDM’s new approach aims at educating parents and children about allergy risks, this has many parents concerned that the trend may spread to other school boards. Ann Labrasseur has an 8-year-old son who is severely allergic to peanuts and she is worried about his safety.
Her son attends another school board and she thinks the new policy won’t be helpful for kids like hers,
“We won’t let kids to go out, when it’s -25, they might get a frost bite. We don’t let them go out when it’s raining, they might get wet. But we’re gonna allow to have these dangerous, killing foods around our kids and it’s ok.”
The mother of two says having a son with food allergies can be very difficult, she’s constantly looking for peanut-free recipes.
“I’m teaching my kid not to eat peanuts, I’m teaching my kids not to share, he knows he might die if he eats it; but I don’t know why we have to put this other pressure on the kids to make them learn,” Lebrasseur says.
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Allergy Quebec says schools in the province decided to ban popular food allergens about 15 years ago. Dominique Seigneur says, banning food allergens isn’t the right and only way to deal with allergy risks.
“I just think that we have to give the schools and the board tools, efficient tools, extraordinary tools, to make sure those kids are going to be in an environment where it’s safe for them — and maybe we’re not obligated to ban food to do that,” Dominique Seigneur said.
Allergy Quebec says, if school staff are properly trained, following suit may not be the worst idea.
“Do we want to put our energy on banning food and making sure they’re banned?” Seigneur said. “And if we do that where do we stop? Do we just bans peanuts and nuts? Why not other food? And if we ban everything what do we do? Or do we want to put our energy on working something global that’s including all the schools in Quebec?”
At the moment, other school boards in Montreal, such as the English Montreal School Board and Commission Scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, say they have no plan to lift their bans or change their policies.