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Concerns about allergies spreading throughout Buffalo schools

Buffalo schools are becoming concerned about food allergies among the students. That ranges from the peanut issue to determining what is in other food brought into the buildings, like cupcakes for birthdays.

That's why the school board is considering an actual policy controlling everything from parents and doctors reporting kids with allergy problems to making sure the information is in student health files. 

Food Service Director Bridget O'Brien Wood says staff members check for potential problem ingredients.

"Eggs and wheat and peanuts and tree nuts are the big ones that we're really looking at and we have to monitor labels," O'Brien Wood said.

"We have trained our food service staff to always look at labels and sometimes they can change an ingredient and it's on the label and they don't really tell us."

The school board is looking at establishing a 14-page food allergies policy. Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash admits it's more than a little complicated.
"I don't want to restrict things like breakfasts in classrooms," Cash said during a recent meeting. 

"But, we also know there are highly variable ways that food can get into the classroom through incentives, through birthday parties, through Child of the Week, somebody comes and has a holiday and also a celebration from all the cultures."

In a number of buildings, a table is set aside for for kids with allergy issues. If a friend comes over to eat with the allergic students, staff members are asked to monitor what the other student is eating. After a meal, that table is supposed to get a special cleaning.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.