Published January 13, 2015
Savannah Dowling is a typical 8-year-old girl; much of her protein comes from peanut butter sandwiches.
However, if she wants to bring one to Central Indiana's Pleasant View Elementary School, she has to eat it at a special table in the cafeteria to accommodate one first grader with a severe allergy. Soon she'll have to take her lunch to an area the school is calling the "peanut gallery" so the one child with the peanut allergy isn't affected.
"I don't think everybody should have to suffer because of one kid," said Mike Raper, a critic of the idea and fiancé of Savannah's mother. "I think it's a terrible precedent. Basically, because there's nowhere to draw the line. You've got people allergic to milk, wheat. My own son's diabetic. There's just no where to draw that line."
School Superintendent Mary Ann Irwin called it "one of the most challenging" accommodations the school has made for its students.
"I think everybody realizes [that] as parents we're advocates for our children and no one wants this young man to be endangered," Irwin said. "We want all our kids to feel that this is a normal environment, that nobody is ostracized for any reason, whether you bring peanut butter or whether you don't have peanut butter."
The boy's parents refused to be interviewed but said their child's allergy warrants extraordinary safeguards.
"He does not have to ingest it for his air to constrict and he loses the ability to breathe," the parents wrote in a statement. "We have the medical evidence that shows that our son has one of the worst allergies on record for this food."
Food allergists say peanut allergies (search) among school-aged children have doubled to 400,000 over the last five years. They can't explain the spike but said it has caused more schools to creatively accommodate allergic students.
At Pleasant View, the result has been a dietary dilemma. There was already a ban on peanut products from being used in foods served by school workers in the cafeteria and the school had tried peanut-free tables before the gallery idea came about.
"At kindergarten, first and second grade, peanut butter is a staple of life," Irwin said. "Some of them are not good meat eaters and so they eat cheese. If we supplement with cheese, then there are kids who are lactose intolerant (search)."
Some parents wonder what will next segregate kids in the cafeteria.
Click in the video box above for the complete story by FOX News' Jeff Goldblatt.