Concerned about potentially serious peanut allergies, the Bexley school board decided unanimously on July 19 to create a peanut-free table in every district school building.

Concerned about potentially serious peanut allergies, the Bexley school board decided unanimously on July 19 to create a peanut-free table in every district school building.

School board member Marlee Snowdon was excited to see the change in policy because her son has a severe allergy to peanuts.

"At the last meeting, we voted in a policy that calls for each school to provide a peanut-free table," she said. "The only children who can sit there are students who don't have peanuts anywhere in their lunch."

In addition to excluding peanuts from the table, the table will be washed with a different cleaner and a different cloth than the other tables to ensure the students don't come into any contact with peanuts, Snowdon said.

"It really acts as a barrier for those kids with allergies," she said, adding that 6- to 8-percent of district students are allergic to peanuts and the allergy can be life-threatening at times.

Snowdon said establishing a peanut-free table in the cafeteria creates an environment in which more people are aware of the severity of the peanut allergy issue.

Snowdon said her son has a deadly peanut allergy. Without treatment, the allergic reaction to peanuts would be fatal, she said..

School board member Diane Peterson also supports having a peanut-free table.

"Even though I do not have any parental experience dealing with food allergies, I am supportive of policy changes that address and promote the health and safety of our students," she said.

The district also is in the midst of revising its health and wellness policy to further limit bringing peanuts or peanut products to school. Snowdon is advocating a change that would prohibit serving peanut products at school celebrations like birthday and holiday parties.

"If you are bringing food to a celebration to be consumed by others then I think we should," she said.

The health and wellness policy would not prohibit a student from bringing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or peanut butter cookie for lunch, Snowdon said.

"I don't feel like it is a good policy to tell people what to bring for lunch," she said. "As long as an overall health choice is made we don't want to say you can't pack peanut butter for lunch for your child to eat at their table where it's safe."

A committee that has been formed to look at health and wellness issues in the district will begin meeting the first week of August.

School board member Carol Fey said the committee will include parents and physicians interested in school nutrition and addressing issues like food allergies, including peanut allergies, that a substantial number of students suffer from.

"'It is a little preliminary to know what my position would be right now," she said. "I will take the overall position that children's safety should be promoted the best we can reasonably do so."

According to kidshealth.org, about 1.5-million people in the United States are allergic to peanuts. Half of those allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews and often sunflower and sesame seeds.

"Peanuts are one of the most severe food allergens often causing life-threatening reactions," the site said.