7:285-AP1-Food Allergy Management

Health and Wellness Birthday Celebration Recommendations:

A.  Eliminating Food Treats for Birthday Celebrations and Rewards

1. Avoiding  Risk of Harm to Students
Food allergies affect approximately 4% of children under 18 and 2.5 % of adults. One in 13 children suffers from some type of food allergy, with 25% of first-time anaphylactic reactions occurring while they are at school.  Every allergic reaction has the possibility of developing into a life threatening reaction. Prevention of exposure is the first line of defense against an allergic reaction at school.
Students with known food allergies are put at risk even when they bring their own snack.  Allergens may be inadvertently left on desks, chairs and shared supplies that may trigger a life threatening reaction.

2. Avoiding loss of Instructional time
Serving, eating and cleaning up after birthday treats takes valuable impacts  time for classroom instruction.   Celebration treats may interrupt a lesson in order to make time for the treat or disrupt the instructional schedule.  Allowing teachers to incorporate classroom recognition and acknowledgement of a child’s special day without the pressure of serving food will ensure each child is equally recognized and that lessons will not be negatively impacted.

3. Preventing  disparity
Families may have the inability to financially provide a birthday treat to classmates.  Removing this expectation relieves all families of the financial responsibility of providing a treat for their child’s birthday and also removes the embarrassment of not providing a treat.

4. Promote healthy lifestyle
The purpose of the wellness policy is to promote a school environment that promotes and protects a student’s health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity.   Healthy snacks and alternative ways to celebrate a student birthdays aligns with BPS101 wellness guidelines.

B.  Procedural Recommendations for 7:285 Food Allergy Management or 6:050 School Wellness

a. Parent/Guardian communication will include the expectation that food will no longer be accepted for birthday celebrations, including the rationale behind the decision.

b. Principal and/or Classroom Teacher will send home a reminder at the beginning of each school year to remind Parents and Students of the new expectation of no food for birthdays.

c. Teachers will determine the replacement/recognition within the context of their classroom.   (Suggestions attached).

d. Teachers/Principals will not provide birthday food gifts or rewards for students.

e. Treats brought in for birthdays will be returned to the Parent/Guardian

C. Sample Communications:  (samples edited from other districts)

1. This year, BPS101 will have a new policy regarding the celebration of birthdays at school. Treats will no longer be a part of student birthday celebrations. Children’s birthdays will be celebrated in class with each teacher acknowledging birthdays in a special way such as a birthday crown, singing happy birthday, allowing a child to share a special book with the class, or in another manner appropriate for their age and grade. There will continue to be opportunities for parties for other limited, special events.

The reasons for this change in policy include health concerns and the loss of instructional time. I can imagine it does not sound like much instructional time is lost for recognizing a birthday, but when you multiply the time by multiple students, and that not all birthday treats sent are modest or easy to serve, it adds up to the equivalent of one or more days of lost instruction. Several of our students have health concerns related to food, including allergies, obesity, diabetes, and sensitivities to dyes. Additionally it is not uncommon for more than one birthday treat to be delivered on the same day, resulting in two sweet treats within one day.

Thank you for supporting us in our efforts to keep students healthy and help them learn.

2. Dear Parents or Guardians,

This letter is written to share information with you about District wellness policy/practice that addresses birthday treats.
Last year our school district enacted a health and wellness practice of no birthday treats.  This decision was made after much thought and discussion at a District level, as a community, and as a staff.  There are a variety of reasons why this change has been made the main one being; to coordinate and align our districts wellness policy with federal regulations.
Other rationale for restricting treats at school includes:
•  Loss of instructional time
•  Expense
•  Equity
• Allergies
• Our no birthday treats policy compliments our healthy snack policy of fruits
and/or vegetables, cheese and yogurt snack break guidelines.

We realize not everyone may fully support this change.  Please know that parental support has been more than favorable from the schools and classrooms that have moved in this direction.
Please know that we are not trying to take the fun out of birthdays.  Classroom teachers will
continue to recognize children on their special day in special ways.

Thanks in advance for your support of this policy and for helping promote healthy snacks at

D. Handbook Example

For many reasons, none of the elementary schools in the district allow birthday treats consisting of food products.  Your child’s birthday will still be acknowledged in the classroom, but not with food.  However, you are welcome to send in non-food items such as pencils, stickers etc., or donate a book to the school library or your child’s classroom in honor of your child’s birthday.
 Increased class sizes mean more interruptions in learning to celebrate birthdays.
 Offering so many treats so often can contribute to unhealthy eating habits.
 Federal, state and district wellness initiatives are opposed to celebrating with food in the classroom due to a dramatic increase in childhood obesity.
 Food allergies are on the increase, and not having birthday treats in the classroom is one more way to provide a safe environment for students.
It is not our intent to prevent students from enjoying their birthdays; however, every child’s instructional time is valuable, and needs to be as free from disruptions as possible.  Ideas for celebrating your student’s special day within the classroom are listed below.  Individual classroom teachers may provide additional guidelines for birthdays at their discretion, and often have very creative ways of celebrating birthdays for children to feel special for more than just one day.  During our daily announcements we will wish them a happy birthday for
all of the building to hear.

E. Examples of Elementary celebration alternatives for parents:
a. Share a favorite book with the class
b. Donate a book or magazine to the classroom or school library
c. Share pencils, stickers, specialized paper
d. Have lunch with your child

Teachers may provide many different activities for your child’s birthday.  These may include special privileges for the day, a birthday hat or button, recognition on the board, opportunity for class to sing a song to the child, a Happy Birthday wish at the morning announcements and other creative ways to make the day special without serving food.

Date Adopted: 03/21/2013