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Mary Lou Conca: Banning nuts in Amherst schools goes too far

To the editor:

The recent decision to ban all nut products in the Amherst schools came as a shocking piece of information.

At first I thought surely there is some sort of misunderstanding here, and that no district would take upon itself such a huge overhaul of change. Yet when I sat at the October school committee meeting where it was discussed, the reality of what the superintendent was intending to do hit home.

I immediately felt it was an attack on poor people. I mean really, has she been to the local food pantry yet? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were the main food item for me, and my kids, all the years of their growing up. Still are.

The superintendent said she had consulted with her lawyer, and a string of others, including school nurses, and then went ahead and made this decision. It sounded to me that she did this simply because she could.

For the school committee, who I understand she works for, not to know about this new policy was surprising. For the community, who I understand the school committee works for, not to have any input into this decision is equally surprising. How does this system work if the chain of events that led to this tampering and changing of school policy is not followed?

School cafeterias have nut-free tables assigned to those with allergies. Hand washing is actively encouraged at school, throughout the day, for the ones using nut products either at home, or in their food at school. These things are already being done. To expect a complete change in the diet of every single person attending school is something I find a bit too much. Bee stings cause health risks as well, and as seriously as nut allergies. Does that mean every bee-attracting plant, flower, bush or weed must be eliminated from school grounds, and all fragrances that attract bees are to be banned next?

Mary Lou Conca



Amherst schools move ahead with nut restrictions

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

AMHERST — Parents of Amherst schoolchildren are receiving letters this week offering them peanut alternatives and outlining the School Department’s plans for keeping nut products off school grounds beginning Monday. School officials, who had hoped to institute a restriction of nuts and related foods Oct. 15 to protect students who have severe allergies to them, delayed implementation after some parents …

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