Nuts allowed: Montreal school board 'cannot prohibit certain foods'
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 31, 2017 8:11AM EDT
Quebec’s largest school board has made the controversial decision to allow students to bring nuts and other allergens in their lunches to their elementary schools.
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The Commission Scolaire de Montreal sent an explanatory letter home to parents of children attending the 200 schools affected by the new rules.
“Because dietary decisions are up to parents, the board cannot prohibit certain foods or confiscate a child’s lunch,” the memo stated.
Although the controversial decision may be welcomed by some families, parents like Donna Litvack are concerned about the potential risks. Her son suffers from a serious peanut allergy and she’s worried about how the new changes will affect his safety at school.
“At this age, at the elementary school level, where there would be peanuts surrounding him, it's shocking to me,” Litvack told CTV Montreal on Tuesday.
Allergies Quebec, a charity advocating for more allergy education, has applauded the school board’s judgement, however.
Dominique Seigneur, the director of communications at Allergies Quebec, said certain foods don’t need to be banned as long as staff and students are well equipped with the proper information about them.
“We just want to make sure all the training is well in place and these kids are going to be in security inside their school,” she explained.
Montreal high schools already don’t have any restrictions on nuts or other allergens because educators believe students are old enough to make careful decisions.
Tony Pita, the principal at Royal West Academy, said high schoolers can generally advocate for themselves when it comes to their meals.
“They’ve been trained throughout elementary school by the school and by their parents, so by the time they get to high school it's usually not a problem,” Pita said.
That acquired wisdom won’t help Litvack and her young son in elementary school, however. She said he could be in danger if he’s even near peanuts.
“If he accidentally touched the table and there was a little bit of residue of peanut and if he touched his face there would be potential for anaphylaxis,” she explained. “It’s not just a serious allergy, it’s a deadly allergy.”
For now, other Montreal school boards, including the English Montreal School Board and the Commission Scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, will continue to ban nuts and other allergens in their elementary schools.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Amanda Kline