Monitoring a child with severe food allergies is no easy task. Monitoring hundreds of such children within a district of 30,000 students is even harder. This is why Colorado Springs (Colo.) School District 11 adopted a new software system from a local provider this past fall that details the ingredients of every meal served at every school. The program, AllerSchool, not only allows parents of students with severe allergies to log in and request special meals for their children, but it also allows students and faculty members who may have less severe allergies or food sensitivities to view the ingredients. According to Jamie Humphrey, administrative dietician for District 11, the program has done wonders to alleviate food services paperwork, reduce phone calls from concerned parents, and promote inclusion in the cafeteria.
Upon logging into AllerSchool, users can choose which school in the district they are eating at and then pick what foods they want to avoid. The menus are listed in great detail, displaying not only common food triggers such as nuts, dairy, meat and gluten, but also items such as spices, beans, seeds and high-fructose corn syrup.
AllerSchool was created by a Denver-based company, Gipsee, which has a similar program for restaurants. Its founder, Dilip Chopra, has a daughter with food allergies and wanted to help students feel included in the socialization of the cafeteria. “It gives them a sense of normalcy,” says Chopra. “It also gives piece of mind to parents who have never felt comfortable with their child eating at school.”
After paying a $1,000 startup fee, which includes training and input of much of the student data and recipes, districts generally pay $10 per month. AllerSchool is being introduced in other Colorado districts and in districts in Illinois.