Safe Snack

Ferndale Family,

The Ferndale Early Childhood Center, Ferndale Lower Elementary School, and Ferndale Upper Elementary School are peanut, tree nut, and sesame restricted. 

Safety is the top priority of our school family.  This year we have had several students identified as having life threatening allergies that can be triggered by airborne, touch, contact, and/or consumption of various food items.  Due to the seriousness and severity of these allergies we have had to restrict the types of food brought into the FECC, FLEL, and FUEL for the coming school year.

Acceptance is one of the many things that  makes our community so exceptional.  While I have only been here a few weeks it has been truly inspirational to witness this firsthand. 

When I say acceptance, I refer to an attitude of openness and respect for the differences that exist amongst people. Although this term is typically used to refer to ethnic and religious differences, the concepts of diversity, tolerance, and acceptance can also be applied to gender, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and other differences, such as life-threatening allergies. 

Acceptance is respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. While these new restrictions will no doubt be challenging for many of our families to adjust to, we know our community will continue to come together for the good of all our students.

On this page you will find a series of documents that will help assist you in this transition.  We have also created a special section of our website with additional information to support families in making safe food choices. Throughout the school year we will continue to update this website in addition to sending information to families in our district E-Blast and Principal and  Teacher newsletters. 

Bridging the gap between students with and without food allergies in order to provide a healthy, safe school experience for all is difficult, but necessary.  With your assistance we can continue to harbor the special environment of acceptance and inclusion that exists within our halls.  Working together we will continue to provide a safe school experience for all our children.

Thank you for your understanding.  


Peanut, Tree Nut, & Sesame Restricted Zones

PDF DocumentSafe Snack Printable Page

Did you know that 1 in 13 kids in the United States has a food allergy? That is approximately 2 students per classroom. For children with food allergies, even a tiny amount of the food they are allergic to can make them very sick. The most common food allergies are to milk, egg, peanuts, tree nut (I.E. - walnuts, almonds), soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Another fast growing allergen in children is sesame.

To protect our students, Ferndale Early Childhood Center and Ferndale Lower & Upper Elementary buildings are peanut-, tree nut-, and sesame-free. The following resources are to help all of our parents and students navigate this sensitive, but vitally important issue.

These are the primary allergens to look for on food products:

  • Sesame Seeds
  • Peanuts
  • All Tree Nuts, including, but not limited to the following common ones: 
    • Almonds
    • Beechnuts
    • Brazil nuts
    • Bush nuts
    • Butternuts
    • Cashews
    • Chestnuts
    • Filberts
    • Ginko nuts
    • Hazelnuts
    • Hickory nuts
    • Lichee nuts
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Nangai nuts
    • Pecans
    • Pine nuts
    • Pistachios
    • Shea nuts
    • Walnuts
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil or other nut oils
  • almond milk, cashew milk, or other nut milks
  • Bread Crumbs
    • This common ingredient almost always contains sesame.

Alternate Names

Although sesame has about 20 or 30 alternate names, we have come across this short list as ingredients on products.

  • Tahini/Tahina/Tehina (crushed sesame)
  • Gomasio (sesame salt)
  • Sesame Flour
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Halva/Halvah (dense, Middle Eastern confection often made from sesame or nut flour)

What is a Tree Nut?

Tree Nuts are not the same as peanuts–which are legumes–or seeds–such as sunflower or sesame. Tree nuts are one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged foods sold in the U.S., as required by federal law. (The other seven are milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, and soy.) Below is a list of identified tree nuts and tree nut derivatives in culinary use.

  • Almond
  • Artificial nuts
  • Beechnut
  • Black walnut hull extract (flavoring)
  • Brazil nut
  • Butternut
  • Cashew
  • Chestnut
  • Chinquapin nut
  • Coconut
  • Filbert/hazelnut
  • Gianduja (a chocolate-nut mixture)
  • Ginkgo nut
  • Hickory nut
  • Litchi/Lichee/Lychee nut
  • Macadamia nut
  • Marzipan/almond paste
  • Nangai nut
  • Natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut—although artificial extracts are generally safe)
  • Nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
  • Nut distillates/alcoholic extracts
  • Nut meal
  • Nut meat
  • Nut milk (e.g., almond milk, cashew milk)
  • Nut oils (e.g., walnut oil, almond oil)
  • Nut paste (e.g., almond paste)
  • Nut pieces
  • Pecan
  • Pesto
  • Pili nut
  • Pine nut (also referred to as Indian, Pignoli, Pigñolia, Pignon, Piñon and Pinyon nut)
  • Pistachio
  • Praline
  • Shea nut
  • Walnut
  • Walnut hull extract (flavoring)

Why restrict ALL students from eating peanuts, tree nuts and/or sesame while in school?

FPS has several students in our district who have a life-threatening allergy that can be triggered by touch, contact, consumption, or airborne inhalation.

My child doesn’t have food allergies, why restrict what he/she brings to school?

For students who have airborne, touch, or contact allergies, even the smallest amount can cause a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction. Small traces of oils and dust can cling to and stick on community items such as pencils, door knobs, keyboards, etc, causing reactions for the allergic child.

What does an allergic reaction look or feel like?

An allergic reaction to food can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract, and, in the most serious cases, the cardiovascular system. Reactions can range from mild to severe, including the potentially life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. In the U.S., food allergy symptoms send someone to the emergency room every three minutes.

Symptoms typically appear within minutes to several hours after eating the food to which you are allergic. Keep in mind that children may communicate their symptoms in a different manner than adults.

Read more about how a child might describe a reaction.

Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Turning blue
  • Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • A weak or “thread” pulse
  • Sense of “impending doom”

Severe symptoms, alone or in combination with milder symptoms, may be signs of anaphylaxis and require immediate treatment.

Is restricting these allergens to all early childhood and elementary classrooms the best answer?

We have many students who have severe allergies. We have many families who have children in more than one setting. Packing a lunch or snack for each child is easiest if we have one SAFE FOOD LIST to work from. It will support a safer school environment.

Can I still eat peanuts, tree nuts and other foods at my home?

Yes, but please be mindful that you and your child wash hands, brush teeth, and are aware of items that go to and from school.

I have read the SAFE SNACK AND LUNCH list that was sent home and on the school website. Is this list conclusive or can I bring other safe snacks?

The list is not conclusive and we will add to it throughout the school year. Please check all food labels for potential allergens. If you are interested in sharing other snacks, please check with the front office PRIOR to bringing it into the school building.

Labels that say, “Made in a facility with peanuts/tree nuts OR May Contain peanuts/tree nuts” are to be avoided.



Are you going to only allow NON-EDIBLE Birthdays?

Our hope is that families will work with the classroom teacher/Principal to find a birthday treat that works best for your child and the class family. Although we promote activities that focus on celebrations rather than food, we understand that your family or birthday child may want to bring something to share from the Safe Food List. If the child chooses to bring a snack to share, it will be part of the normal snack routine and he/she will be recognized for bringing a snack to share with the class family to celebrate his/her birthday.

Our goal is not to take away being a kid. Our goal is to make sure all students in the class family can take part in the birthday celebration.

Does this restriction include PTO, PTA and other school wide activities and clubs?

This restriction should be adhered to by any organization, agency, community group who uses the Ferndale Early Childhood Center, Lower Elementary Campus and/or Upper Elementary Campus.

What about field trips?

Students and parents participating in a field trip must still adhere to the guidelines.

Sharing food with others is how I grew up and I want my child to understand that sharing is a kind act.

Sharing is a value we want to instill in our children. We still want our children to share a smile, jokes, and laughter. However, for kids with allergies, sharing food is serious. It is our responsibility to teach our children that even a tiny amount of food can make a friend very, very sick.

How can I help my child understand the seriousness of allergies without scaring/overwhelming him or her?

There are many reputable websites that can support parents and children in understanding the severity of allergies. A good site to start would be

What about teachers, staff members, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodial crew, substitutes and volunteers? Training? Adherence?

Yes. All persons on campus at all times are asked to adhere to these safety precautions.

All Ferndale School employees receive annual training on allergy awareness, signs/symptoms of a life-threatening reaction, how to administer an Epi-Pen, and other medical conditions deemed necessary.

Volunteers who attend overnight camps and other specific field trips will receive allergy awareness training.


Does the school have Epi-Pens available if a child or adult in the school was having a life threatening reaction or anaphylaxis?

Yes, each school building stores Epi-Pens in unlocked yellow boxes in case of emergency.

How do you know that these students really have a life-threatening airborne, touch or contact allergy?

A family must inform the school district that their child has a severe allergy. The district requires a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) plan from a certified doctor with specifics detailing the child’s severity. A 504 plan is then written to support the child in the school setting and staff must abide by the plan.

My child has a severe allergy to milk, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, yeast or shellfish. Why don’t you have restrictions on these items?

The safety of ALL of our students is paramount. We understand there are children who have severe allergies to foods when consumed. However due to the increased danger to students who have airborne, touch, and/or contact allergies, we must place a higher standard of safety in these areas.  We will continue to work with families of students with other severe allergies to maintain their safety.

Will there still be a Peanut-, Tree Nut- and Sesame-Free Table in the cafeteria?

Most likely, yes. We will follow the written documentation by the prescribing doctor, 504 Plan, and work closely with each family to ensure all the necessary precautions are in place while maintaining an environment of inclusion.

How will parents, children and staff members remember to continually adhere to these restrictions?

Signs will be posted at all entrances reminding everyone they are entering a Safe Zone.

The district will send out regular reminders, updates and information about food allergies through the E-blast, website, and social media.

Each building will send out regular reminders, updates, and information about food allergies through the school newsletter and social media, and at meetings.

Each building will have an area near the front of the school with information for families on how to support students with allergies.

My family does not have a child with allergies. This all seems a bit overwhelming.

Yes, this is different than what some families are used to. However, the Ferndale Schools community prides itself on inclusion and doing what is best for ALL students. We know that our Ferndale School Family wants to keep every child safe from harm.


How will students learn more about Allergy Awareness?

Our school social workers, principals, and teaching staff will work with students to bring allergy awareness into our schools. At the beginning of the year, the social worker meets with each classroom to read specific books and have a class discussion.

One of my neighbors thinks this is too much and another thinks it is not enough. How can I support our School Family?

Acceptance is one of the many things that  makes our community so exceptional.


Acceptance refers to an attitude of openness and respect for the differences that exist amongst people. Although originally used to refer to ethnic and religious differences, the concepts of diversity, tolerance, and acceptance can also be applied to gender, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and other differences, such as life-threatening allergies.


Acceptance is respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. With our focus on social-emotional learning, our students, families, and community will continue to make Ferndale a place for EVERYONE.

Good To Go


  • Vegetables
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Raisins

Please Read & Verify Labels

You MUST check labels as even some of our most trusted brands change manufacturing facilities, etc.


  • All Popcorn, Skinny Pop
  • Kettle Brand – Sea Salt
  • Kettle Brand Bakes – Sea Salt, Aged White Cheddar, Sea Salt & Vinegar
  • Lay’s – Classic, Sour Cream & Onion, Lightly Salted, Cheddar & Sour Cream, Wavy Original, Salt & Vinegar,
  • Lay’s Kettle Cooked – Original, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Reduced Fat, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Munchos
  • Mystic Kettle Potato Chips – Regular, Reduced Fat, Dark Russet, Sea Salt & Vinegar
  • Natural Lay’s – Sea Salted
  • Better Made – All Products
  • Pop Tarts
  • NutriGrain Cereal Bars
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Goldfish Crackers-Pepperidge Farm
  • Applesauce - Go Go Squeeze, Mott’s, Musselman’s and Earth’s BestGo-gurt
  • Honey Graham Crackers
  • Pretzels - Rold Gold or Snyder Brands
  • Annie’s Brand - All Varieties
  • Enjoy Life Brand - All Varieties
  • Cheez-its
  • Veggie Straws
  • Aldi Animal Crackers
  • Sunbutter Products & Wow Butter
  • Free2B Brand - All Products
  • Nabisco - Plain Ritz Crackers
  • Ruffles - Original
  • Pringles - Original & Reduced Fat
  • Frito Lay - Plain Fritos
  • Freedom Food Cereals - Rice Puffs, Ancient grain Flakes, Cocoa Crunch, Corn Flakes, Maple Crunch, Rice Flakes and Tropic O’s
  • Kelloggs Cereals - Apple Jacks, Fruit Loops
  • General Mills Cereals - Cheerios (plain or multigrain)
  • Mott's Fruit Snacks
  • Oreos

Must NOT Be Brought to School

This is not an exhaustive list of unsafe items. On the back of food packaging you will find a food label. Please check the label. Any label that states, “May contain...” and/or “Is manufactured in a facility that produces peanut/tree nut/sesame” is NOT safe.

  • Nut Spreads, like hazelnut spread (Nutella), peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc.
  • Nut Milks, like almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
  • Tahini
  • Hummus
  • Bread with seeds (hamburger buns, multi-grain and sub buns with seeds)
  • Bagels
  • Bagel Chips
  • Melba toast
  • Whole Nuts