It’s peanut butter jelly time, unless it’s lunchtime at school

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a huge staple in my diet growing up. There were times when my family did not have a lot of money to spend on food, and a cheaper option was the PB&J. Even now, I’ll whip together the tasty sandwich to satisfy a snack attack.

I wonder how my mother would have reacted if the school had sent me home with a note saying my peanut butter and jelly sandwich had been confiscated, and that there was a ban on anyone in the school bring peanut products on campus.

Knowing my mother, the subsequent confrontation with the school principal would have been ugly.

Of course, that never happened when I went to school. If I went to school with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that was just fine to everyone. If I went with a cupcake or a Snickers bar, that was no sweat off anyone’s back. As long as I didn’t roll a keg of beer onto the campus, it didn’t matter what I had for sustenance.

Then again, I grew up in Arizona. It appears they do things a little differently in Arkansas.

I came across a story online about a school in Viola, Ark., that took a student’s lunch away because it contained a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in it. The reason being was that the school banned peanut products because some students have allergies to the popular snack food.

Here’s a blurb from the story:

“School Superintendent John May said a policy has been in place at the elementary school for about six years, banning food products containing peanuts, because at least one student has severe allergic reactions to even breathing near peanuts or products containing peanuts.

“Denise Clifton-Jones started the discussion when a teacher noticed her son, Jenkins, had brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat in the lunch room. The teacher took the sandwich, helped him get a lunch tray and sent home a note explaining the no-peanut products policy, which was discussed at the school’s open house before school began.

“Clifton-Jones was angered by the action and began speaking out on her Facebook page. She got so much response that a Facebook “School Nut Ban Discussion” page was created. It has attracted more than 40 comments.”

I can understand wanting to protect children as much as possible, but from what I understand of people who have peanut allergies, they have to actually come in direct contact with nuts to have a reaction to them. I really don’t see an issue for Susie just because Johnny is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, unless Johnny is smooshing it up in Susie’s face.

There is a movement these days to encourage kids to eat healthier. New food regulations are becoming more stringent on what schools can have in the meals they provide to students. It’s one thing to regulate schools, but it’s quite another to force parents to make other arrangements for the lunch they bring to school.

Also, why only peanuts? There are other food allergies. My mother cannot eat pork. My stepfather is lactose intolerant (milk allergy). Do the schools plan to tell the dairy and pork industries to take their goods to the other side of the river?

Here are a few of the health benefits of peanuts, according to http://www.nutrition-and-you.com:

∙ Peanuts are rich in energy and contain many health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

∙ They are especially, rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acids that help to lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increase HDL or “good cholesterol”. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.

∙ These nuts are a good source of dietary protein and compose fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth and development.

∙ Peanuts are excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenol antioxidant, which has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral/fungal infections.

∙ Studies suggests that resveratrol reduces stroke risk by alteration of molecular mechanisms in blood vessels (reducing susceptibility to vascular damage through decreased activity of angiotensin, a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would elevate blood pressure) and by increasing production of the vasodilator hormone, nitric oxide.

∙ The nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E (a-tocopherol); containing about 8 grams per 100 grams. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant which helps maintain the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting from harmful oxygen free radicals.

So peanuts are a good thing, just like bacon and cheese, so why are they health scapegoats for the Viola school system? It’s one thing to keep Johnny from weighing 300 pounds before he’s 16, but when you start taking away the healthy options, what’s left? When you deprive poor households of a financially thrifty food choice for their children, what are the parents to do?

I’m amazed that this ban has been in place so long. Surely others have sent their kids to school with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Why did it take so long for parents to stand up and say enough? I hope the objecting parents succeed in bringing common sense back to their school, as it appears the administrators have misplaced theirs.

You know, this post is making me hungry. I think I’ll have a sandwich.

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