13-year-old Natalie Giorgi
ELK GROVE, CA - A parent asked the largest school district in Northern California to ban all peanut products from the district's elementary schools, even in lunches brought from home.
"The only way to protect these children is to minimize exposure, and the only way to minimize exposure is to make the campuses peanut free," Crystelle Berginc told Elk Grove Unified board members at their meeting Tuesday night.
The district already decided to ban peanut products from meals at all of its elementary schools in August after the death of 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi at Camp Sacramento in July.
Giorgi's death after eating a rice crispy treat with peanut butter has led some Sacramento area districts to review their policies on peanut products in their menus.
Berginc, who said she was speaking for Giorgi's family, told board members a total ban is the only way to keep kids safe.
"Today, this is my child, but tomorrow it could be their child," Berginc told the board, gesturing toward the audience at the meeting.
Board members worried that a total ban might give parents a false sense of security and bring liability issues.
"We cannot inspect every child's lunch bag of the ingredients of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," Elk Grove board member Bobbie Sing-Allen said.
Board members were sympathetic, and member Steve Ly urged a cultural shift in understanding how dangerous allergies can be and asked Berginc to work with district staff to bring more awareness.
"It's not effective when one person's doing it, but it's truly effective when the whole school's doing it," Ly said.
Berginc agreed to work with a district committee to help raise awareness.
"I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to bring something that could potentially kill another child to school and so I just think it's a matter of education," Berginc said.