Lee County Schools- Bringing Back the Peanut


Letter from Our Team Amy Carroll, RD Coordinator, Food and Nutrition Services

Letter from Amy Carroll, RD Coordinator, Food & Nutrition Services 3


butter. Lee County had no choice but to seriously consider reintroducing peanut butter sandwiches as an item on our menus. Food and Nutrition Services knew and understood that there would be resistance to this proposal and fear from a variety of stakeholders including administration, teachers, nursing staff, parents, and students. It was because of this understanding that we wanted to take a collaborative approach to bringing peanuts back and would need representation from all departments. The primary focus of our message was simple – in taking into consideration the 8 major allergens and the very small percentage of students allergic to peanuts, the banning of one allergen might not be the most effective approach to allergy management; but rather a comprehensive allergy management plan. A plan that encompasses all allergens, includes accommodations available for all students with an allergen plan, promotes implementation of new safety features and protocols, provides training and makes certain proper procedures are in place should a reaction occur. Not only a reaction in the cafeteria, but in the classroom, on the playground, on the school bus, etc. This collaboration proved successful in allowing all parties involved to provide feedback and engage in healthy dialogue as how to best proceed with safely bringing peanuts back into our school kitchens. While still recognizing that peanuts are a common food allergen, our district has developed a plan that addresses all major allergens ensuring that all students are protected, while remembering that the vast majority of kids can eat peanut butter without any issues at all. In addition, a training video geared primarily towards elementary schools, and starring our very own students, has been filmed that will be shared in every classroom prior to the peanut butter roll-out. The School District of Lee County is excited to announce that peanut butter will officially be served again in our cafeterias beginning February 22, 2022.

Greetings and welcome to this special edition digizine focused on bringing peanuts back into schools. My name is Amy Carroll

and I work for The School District of Lee County in Fort Myers, Florida. We are the 32nd largest school district in the country with approximately 95,000 students. I am the Coordinator of Special Projects and Student Wellness for the Food & Nutrition Services Department and one of two Registered Dietitians on staff. Our school district has had peanut free kitchens since 2004. I am not sure of the particular reason why peanuts were removed, though it may have been prompted by the passing of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that year. This act required that food labels must declare if any ingredients listed are major food allergens. The media’s negative attention on peanuts at this time may have quickened the response. But this is all conjecture. In the fall of 2019, I was invited to visit a school in Orange County Florida and observed during their lunch period that peanut butter sandwiches were served. They were an absolute hit amongst the students. A simple, yet nutritious meal of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, orange, and a milk was a true fan favorite. This prompted discussions in Lee County as to whether we should bring peanut butter back as a menu option. We were missing customers. There were 8 major allergens … why were we only banning one? Did this provide a false sense of security? We were peanut free kitchens, but peanut products were allowed tobebrought in fromhome inpacked lunches. However, after almost bragging about “peanut free kitchens” for well over a decade, we knew we were going to face some major obstacles. The conversation was shelved temporarily…and then Covid hit. Fast forward to the 2021-22 school year. School districts across the country are being affected by labor shortages, supply shortages, sky-rocketing costs and a stressed-out work force. School foodservice staff are being forced to get creative with the food that is available and affordable. One commodity item that checks both those boxes during this time is peanut

Making School Breakfast Cool (and Safer): Adopting Top Trends & Managing Food Allergens 4

From the School District of Lee County: Peanut Butter Reintegration Podcast & Video 6

Confused about Food Allergies?

So is Everybody Else. 8

Special Next Up Podcast: Peanuts Returning to Lee County 10

Common Questions About Peanut Allergies:


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Peanut Allergy Community Education Guide 2

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