Deep-fried French fries and sugar-laden canned fruit cocktail are no longer on school lunch menus. But despite healthier items such as whole wheat buns and low-fat milk some students with food allergies or other health issues may have to "brown-bag" their lunches.
Communication, education and involvement seem to be the keys in protecting school-age children from food items that could make them sick.
Joanne Celedon educates herself and protects her children by reading food labels and St. Mary's Catholic School's lunch menu to see what is safe for third-grader Isabel and fifth-grader Andrew to have for lunch.
"I send a lunch in almost every day ... but even a seemingly gluten-free lunch can cause a problem," said Joanne Celedon, mother of third-grader Isabel and fifth-grader Andrew at St. Mary's Catholic School. "On days they have crunchy tacos, they buy their lunch ... but today Andrew had a taco and he had a reaction ... Was it something that put in (the filling) or cross-contamination from another food?"
Both children and their mother have been diagnosed with intolerance to gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. Ingesting gluten can cause cramping, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain, among other symptoms.