Turner Co. school weighs in on peanuts in lunchrooms

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Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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ASHBURN Ga. (WALB) - Nutrition experts are calling for more peanuts in school cafeterias.

They say it can be a cheaper, more nutritional alternative to what is currently being served.

Sherry Coleman Collins, a consultant at the National Peanuts Board, thinks peanuts can be a win-win for South Georgia.

“Peanuts and peanut butter are an incredibly important part of the economics for the state of Georgia. Not only that, (but) they are also an affordable food for everyone,” Collins said.

School districts, however, have to factor in food allergies. Collins said there is a safe way to introduce peanuts at the lunch line.

Turner County has 1,200 students in its district. Nutrition Director Amy Bailey said the small school district can effectively tackle these issues.

Turner County Schools allow students to bring in peanut foods.
Turner County Schools allow students to bring in peanut foods.(WALB)

“It doesn’t take long for lunchroom workers to recognize the children and remember who’s allergic to what,” Bailey said.

The school district offers free lunch and breakfast, but they allow students to pack their own lunches for dietary or personal needs. It has also operated under this plan for years and Officials said it has proven to be effective.

Turner County Schools doesn't have a peanut ban
Turner County Schools doesn't have a peanut ban(WALB)

“It’s a pretty wide variety of what they may be. We have several that are fish and then we may have kids that do have peanut allergies. We just have to adapt,” Bailey said.

Bailey also said that peanuts are more of a snack, so they aren’t offered during main meals at the school.

“The approach that is recommended by experts is a comprehensive food allergy management plan rather than a blanket ban,” Collins said.

The National Peanut Board talked with doctors who said there is a safe way for kids to be near peanuts if they’re airborne.

“What you smell, when you smell the aroma of peanut butter is a volatile compound that causes odor. It is not the same thing that causes a peanut allergy,” Collins said.

She said the protein that causes an allergic reaction can spread through the air, but not very easily. Collins also said schools should still assess their policy based on allergy prevalence.

For more information about peanuts click here.

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