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      Food allergies in school

      For Facebook Friday, we look into how best to protect children from food allergies. In the Marquette Area Public Schools, educators take many precautions to make sure students with food allergies are safe.

      When it comes to caring for students with food allergies, school officials say prevention is key.

      At Marquette Senior High School, preparing food for thousands of students in the whole district is no small matter. Allergy-sensitive foods are stored, prepared, shipped, and labeled to prevent a mix up.

      "We want all the children to be safe in every school. We don't want one incident; we want all the children to be safe. Safety is the number one item for every school and every child in the schools," said Chris Collins, MAPS Food Service Manager.

      School workers put together hundreds of sandwiches and ship out gluten-free sandwiches separately. Officials say there are students with severe food allergies in each school of the district. In some other districts, some products like peanuts are banned, even from homemade lunches, to prevent an allergic reaction.

      On Facebook, Darla Manninen says, "M ost parents with kids with peanut allergies REALLY appreciate the effort other parents put into packing a lunch without the culprit that could so easily kill their child."

      But in the event of a severe reaction, schools are prepared.

      "The whole staff is trained because this is a possible life-threatening reaction and the need to be treated within moments. Moments count," said Linda Johnson, MAPS School Nurse.

      Students with allergies commonly carry epinephrine auto injectors, like EpiPens, and keep one in the school office. Every MAPS school also has a team of first responders.

      "It is a huge team effort. Between the school administration, the school nurse, the food service department, in this school as well as the food service department in the elementary schools or middle school, and the relaying the information so everybody is aware," Collins said.

      Collins says that allergy protection starts with the parents. In the beginning of the year, parents should meet with school administrators to work out special needs for allergic students.

      A popular lunch item is the classic peanut butter and jelly. In Marquette schools, they use a product called Sun Butter instead of peanut butter due to peanut allergies. It's free of peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten, and many say it tastes very similar to peanut butter.