'It's Not A Joke': Teen Speaks About Food Allergy After Kids Throw Peanuts In Her Lunch

| by Jared Keever

A Washington state teenager and her mom say a recent prank at the girl’s school could have killed her. And now they want the school to consider educating students and teachers about the dangers of food allergies. 

Zoe Stevens, 14, has an allergy to nuts, KCPQ News reports. And the Bremerton, Washington, teen says she sometimes endures bullying at school for it. 

“I’ve been bullied about it, teased, people try to throw stuff in my food,” Zoe said in a recent interview with KCPQ News. 

But it’s no laughing matter for her. 

“Every time I sit down for a meal, I have to fear for my life, every time I pick up a fork,” she said. 

Her fellow students, like the one who recently threw a nut into some pasta she was eating, could possibly kill her, she said.

“They think my stomach will just hurt, or I will throw up, but I die if I ate it,” Zoe said.

Her mother feels the same way. 

“I want people to understand it's not a joke,” Monique Stevens said. “I want parents to teach their kids.”

The Central Kitsap School District said they disciplined the student that threw the nut, but declined to describe the nature of the discipline. 

Monique said she is not interested in seeking further discipline for the boy, but she wants the school to consider ways to make the learning environment safer for her daughter and other students with food allergies. 

“We want the kids educated because the statistics say one in 13 kids have a food allergy — that’s two in every classroom,” she said.

The district reportedly said it is considering working food-allergy lessons into health and science classes. 

But Zoe said she would like the district to consider making the schools nut-free zones. 

That might be a tough sell.

Last year, a report from University of Michigan Health System indicated that most parents — even parents of kids with nut allergies — don’t support school-wide bans on foods containing nuts. 

Only 22 percent of U.S. parents of elementary-aged, nut-allergic children polled prior to the report said they preferred a total ban. Of those polled, 47 percent said they preferred their children to eat in lunchrooms with no restrictions. 

The poll results were taken from a nationwide survey of 816 parents. 

For parents of children with no nut allergies, 58 percent said they would support a solution where nut-allergic children eat at special designated nut-free tables in the lunchroom. 

Central Kitsap School District also acknowledged the difficulties in accommodating all students with allergies in a statement released Sept. 30. 

“Because we cannot guarantee an allergy-free environment, our focus is on minimizing the risks associated with allergies,” the statement read. “When concerns arise, we take the opportunity to review our practices and make changes as needed. Our goal is student safety. Ultimately, we want all students to be food allergy aware.”

Sources: KCPQ News, University of Michigan Health System 

Photo credit: Martin L/Flickr, WikiCommons