PORTLAND – Prepackaged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will stay on the menu at Portland’s Beverly Cleary school, despite a push to make the school peanut-free.
The ban was requested by the parent of a child with a life-threatening peanut allergy. The school doesn’t have a cafeteria, so students eat in their classrooms.
The school board struck down the request, noting that there are up to 160 documented food allergens and it would not be feasible to ban them all from school meal programs.
The director of Portland Public Schools nutrition services estimated the potential cost of eliminating Smuckers “PB&J Uncrustables” at $640,000 to $1.2 million annually.
“Peanut butter is a universally popular food choice with children and accounts for about 12 percent of lunches daily,” said Gitta Grether-Sweeney.
Peanut butter substitutes would cost up to $63,000, she said. And preparing and wrapping sandwiches—rather than using the prepackaged option—could cost up to $840,000.
Schools already have procedures in place to minimize the risk of potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.