In the cafeteria
Earlier this month I emailed Mr. Shaw, the principal of Westview Elementary School in Platteville, about the lunch room segregation issue between students eating hot lunch and cold lunch. I have not received a response.
I found out about this issue around the third day of school after my daughter asked to eat hot lunch for the entire year. Knowing my daughter’s eating habits, what she likes, and the menu items being served in the lunch program, I knew something was wrong when she asked to eat hot lunch. I asked her why, and told me that she couldn’t sit with her friends at lunch if she took a cold lunch. This baffled me because after three years this has not been a problem.
Gathering further details I found that the lunch room was segregated due to a couple of students with peanut allergies. Of course the allergy concerns me and I don’t want any student to suffer from being exposed, but I am also concerned because I know my daughter won’t eat many of the hot lunches being served in the Platteville School District. With peanut butter being removed from the hot lunch program, my daughter will not have a menu option that she will eat most days if I purchase hot lunch for her just so that she can sit with her friends.
Believe me when I tell you that I am not the only parent facing this issue. I have heard the same things from talking with several other parents. Many of these kids are not in the same classroom and lunch is the only time they have to socialize together. Being kept at separate tables is just not right.
I started researching the issue on the web and found most schools remedied the problem by assigning a peanut-free table in the lunch room, which allows the children with allergies to still eat with their friends as long as their friends have a lunch that is peanut-free. This also helps solve the problem of contamination of tables.
When I have had lunch at the school with my daughter they have the children wipe down the tables. I am sure they are not doing as thorough a cleaning job as an adult would to keep from exposure to the children with allergies, and these children wiping down the tables are most likely not even aware of how they may be cross-contaminating tables by wiping them down. The table that is identified as peanut-free could be monitored much easier for possible exposure.
The cold lunch children are required to wash their hands after eating. Shouldn’t every child be required to wash their hands before and after eating lunch?
My daughter also brought up an interesting point. She said, “Mom, what if I had peanut butter on my hands and I turned on the faucet in the bathroom, washed my hands, and shut it off? Wouldn’t whoever had the allergy that came in afterward become exposed?” Is there a janitor going in after the kids have washed their hands after lunch and cleaning all the restroom fixtures?
My point is that there are a million ways a child could be exposed. Penalizing more than 200 children from eating with their friends at lunch isn’t the best solution to this problem when there are other better solutions that are being implemented in other schools. A permanent and designated peanut-free lunch table solves the problem even better than segregating hot lunch students from cold lunch students, and allows the children to still socialize and eat with their friends. Additionally, having all children wash their hands regardless of what type of lunch they ate and having adults wipe down all tables better assures that cross contamination does not occur.
Educating everyone about not only peanut allergies, but all food allergies, should be occurring.
Platteville vs. Lancaster
A recent Platteville High School cross country meet on a Thursday evening in Lancaster was an inspirational evening. Team spirit and the coaches’ positive interaction with our kids were evident and appreciated. What a lifelong lesson to be displayed for our children; we truly are blessed to have such a treasure in our Platteville schools.
Talking to Lancaster parents led to an after-hours visit to the Wright Building by one of the investors of The Wright Thing To Do, which took on the top economic and community development priority in Lancaster. Taking a 150-year-old unsafe building, salvaging nearly 14,000 bricks and simply making a “wow” presence in this community — how awesome. The visit was an enjoyable, positive and fun tour. The building is proving to show its magnificent beauty inside and out with all the historic charms a building can give to all who visit. I was amazed with the positive enthusiasm this caring sincere investor displayed. He offered to give ideas and resources to improve our building on Main Street in Platteville.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit downtown West Bend on a floral business adventure. West Bend has been working on an effective business mix and image that would attract and keep more customers downtown and help reestablish downtown as a focal point for the community. Their “Customer First” parking plan created new ordinances that provide unlimited, free, premium parking for visitors and customers of the downtown shopping district. As I entered Main Street I noticed the street signs reading “Customer Parking — thank you for your patronage”; the ordinance number was listed under the wording. They believed that making parking more convenient for visitors and customers leads to improved economic vitality and increased property values downtown, which would in turn stabilize and strengthen the city’s property tax base.
Galena was rated fourth in our nation recently as being the most friendly city. Parking plays a huge part of this award with providing the needs to their visitors, business owners, and employees. The city established a huge free employee designated parking spots for the businesses needs.
Can we please invite some of these successful community leaders to Platteville, take a look, then make decisions as to what is best for Downtown Platteville with all the leading groups in Platteville? Leading groups would include representatives from the Common Council, the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, the Main Street Program, UW–Platteville, the Platteville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Parking Alliance.
Lori Erschen Bahr
Erschen’s Florist, Platteville
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