Chesterfield elementary schools removing peanuts from menu

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) – Chesterfield County Schools have been making menu changes in the last several weeks.  The changes come after the death of seven-year-old Amarria Johnson, who had a fatal allergic reaction to a peanut that was given to her on the school playground.

Shawn M. Smith, spokesperson for the school system confirmed that several changes have been made “over the last several weeks.”

Those changes include:

  • No longer selling pre-packaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in elementary schools.
  • Removing peanut-related products from staff vending machines at the elementary levels.

Smith doesn’t address in the email whether teachers are being asked not to bring in peanut products, only that the school no longer sells such items in the vending machines.

Smith also said, in an email, that “Our School Board has asked the Health Department to review procedures and recommend any changes.”

In a CBS 6 interview, pediatric allergist Stanford Massie said just the smell of a peanut product can set off a deadly reaction for some children. [WEB EXTRA: Seven-year-old Amarria's death from peanut allergy]

“It’s probably the most serious food allergen for children and it’s not uncommon,” said Massie.

The doctor said schools are growing more sensitive to food allergies but still have room for improvement.

He pointed to cafeteria menus as a key example. Area schools like Henrico and Hanover do not serve peanut products.

“When children go sit at a table with someone eating a peanut if you’re highly allergic you can have a reaction,” said Massie.

Massie said having peanut butter served to kids daily in a lunchroom is a policy that should be reconsidered by all schools.

The online Chesterfield Schools menu, see above graphic, still lists peanut butter and jelly (PBJ) as an option. Shawn Smith tells CBS 6 they are working to revise the online menus to include the change in policy.

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