The turn of the century brought about the dawn of a new era of science, technology, and innovation that has redefined every aspect of the contemporary lifestyle. However, the turn of the century also brought about a very different era; the era of allergies. Between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of allergies has risen by over 50%, begging the question, how are schools going to accommodate the average 1 in 13 kids with severe allergies?
Scheck Hillel, a school that has been peanut-restricted for a few years, is taking additional measures to protect their students; they are creating an entirely nut and seed restricted campus. Snacks and food served or sold on campus will no longer contain nuts or seeds. Head chef Alon Ezra adds, “we are very vigilant in maintaining a nut and seed free kitchen.” For students who are allergic, this creates a stress-free and inclusive environment, allowing them to focus on their studies. Gone are the days of students feeling left-out when they have to eat different snacks, gone are the days of students being worried about finding suitable food, gone are the days of parents stressing about their children. “This policy makes sure no child feels like an outcast, while also ensuring their safety on campus,” continued Ezra.
Meanwhile, the school Nurse, Suzanne Schulman, provides a different perspective on the ban on seeds. “Many children who are highly allergic to nuts also tend to be allergic to seeds, and particularly to sesame. However, often, they don’t know about the allergy until they are exposed to and have a negative reaction to a seed. So, for the safety of our highly allergic students, and to build a more inclusive environment, we are all taking certain steps to create a nut and seed restricted campus.” For all students, this new policy has brought some surprising changes to the cafeteria, including the replacement of sunflower butter with soy butter, the introduction of a new hummus without sesame seeds, and the removal of mustard. But, at the end of the day, the changes have been embraced by the students and staff, as their ultimate purpose is beneficial in strengthening the sense of community that defines Hillel.