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Schools Should Be Fear-Free Spaces – 42% of Parents Worried About their Child Starting School Because of Food-Related Allergies

Just Love, the UK’s leading inclusive celebration cake maker, has recently conducted research delving into parent’s attitudes towards sending their children with food allergies to school.

The survey of 1,000 UK parents of children with food allergies has uncovered 42% were concerned when their child started school. Valid concerns, as 29% of parents stated that their children have had an allergic reaction whilst at school. The research also revealed 38% of parents were concerned when their children started nursery, and 30% are worried for their children on school trips.

The research also brought to light that children with food allergies are missing out on ‘normal’ childhood experiences at school. From not attending school trips due to parental concerns (18%), to not eating school prepared meals with other children and bringing packed lunches in from home instead (42%).

At a time when food allergies are on the rise among children, this new research drives home the increasing need for education within schools – amongst teaching staff, catering teams and other pupils – to ensure they are truly a fear-free, inclusive space for all.  Shockingly, only 1/3 of parents believe their school runs education sessions for students or pupils on the importance of understanding food allergies. Research also shows that 20% of serious allergic reactions to food happen whilst a child is at school, and these reactions can occur, without warning, in children with no prior history of a food allergy. Additional research from Allergy UK reveals on average, most school classes in the UK will have at least one or two children with a food allergy, amplifying the need for more education in this space.

Mike Woods, CEO and Founder of Just Love Food Company, said: “As a parent with children who have severe food allergies, I understand how it feels to worry and watch your child miss out on what other children can so easily enjoy, especially in school. Whilst we can’t eliminate all risk, we want to work with schools and those catering for schools to minimise it as much as possible, through allergen awareness and education, campaigning for clear and informative labelling, and by creating products, such as birthday cakes, which enable inclusivity.

“Just Love was initially founded to create allergen free celebration cakes which my children, and other children who suffer from food allergies, could freely enjoy alongside their classmates at parties. No compromise on deliciousness or decoration was the aim.  But it is not just birthday parties at home that are the issue.  Bringing cakes into school to celebrate a birthday or other occasion is an important part of growing up, but we know it is being restricted by fear of food allergies with many schools having nut free policies and not allowing birthday cakes to be brought in to school.  Which is why, following numerous letters from and conversations with other parents, I knew we had to create a range of celebration cakes which are nut free, egg free, milk free and vegan.

Our cakes are clearly labelled (No nuts, no milk, no egg – Just Love), and even include a cut out allergen label to stand next to the cake when it is served so that older children can make safe and informed choices.  Also available as a catering size, we have made sure there is a cake for all occasions.

Our mission is to bring people together with cake, creating inclusive celebrations, where people with food allergies and other dietary needs are not made to feel different and left out as my children were at a young age.   Now, we want to make sure people are aware of the importance of understanding different food allergies and that settings such as schools, have the tools at their disposal to be able to cater for all children and create shared experiences that are so important to early-years development.”

Ahead of the Back-to-School period, Just Love want to advocate for, and raise awareness of, the importance of education around food allergies by bringing people of all ages together through cake.

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About Just Love: Just Love is the UK’s leading inclusive Celebration Cake maker. It was founded in 2010 by father Mike Woods after his children were diagnosed with life threatening nut allergies and Mike found it heartbreaking that they could not share the cake at parties. With a mission to bring people together with cake, Mike set up Just Love, making delicious, hand finished, allergen-safe vegan and gluten free cakes. Just Love is stocked nationwide and is seeing rising demand in line with the UK’s increase in allergies, dietary needs and choices.

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