Special Meal Accommodations
MEAL SUBSTITUTIONS FOR MEDICAL OR SPECIAL DIETARY REASONS
USDA Regulation 7 CFR Part 15b requires substitutions or modifications in school meals for children whose disabilities restrict their diets. A child with a disability must be provided substitutions in foods when that need is supported by a signed statement from a licensed physician.
In Cases of Food Allergy
Generally, children with food allergies or intolerances do not have a disability as defined under either Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or Part B of IDEA, and the school food service may, but is not required to, make food substitutions for them. However, when in the licensed physician’s assessment, food allergies may result in severe, life-threatening (anaphylactic) reactions, the child’s condition would meet the definition of “disability”, and the substitutions prescribed by the licensed physician must be made.
School food service may make food substitutions, at their discretion, for individual children who do not have a disability, but who are medically certified as having a special medical or dietary need. Such determinations are only made on a case-by-case basis. This provision covers those children who have food intolerances or allergies, but do not have life-threatening reactions (anaphylactic reactions) when exposed to the food(s) to which they have problems.
Medical Statement for Children with Special Dietary Needs
Each special dietary request must be supported by a statement explaining the requested food substitution and must be signed by a recognized medical authority. The Medical Statement must include:
- An identification of the medical or other special dietary condition which restricts the child’s diet;
- The food or foods to be omitted from the child’s diet; and
- The food or choice of foods to be substituted.
If we do not receive a medical statement from a recognized medical authority, your child will receive a regular lunch tray. Medical statements completed by parents or guardians will not be accepted.
Food Allergy Policy
We understand that children have different nutritional needs as well as personal taste preferences. We address this by offering meals in components and providing a variety of menu options in the form of choices. Providing meals in this manner, and offering choices within each component category (fruit, vegetable, entree, bread and milk), gives each child the ability to customize a meal that suits his or her appetite and food preferences. A younger child may opt to select only three items, while an older child may select all items offered. Staff members are instructed not to automatically put all the components on every child’s tray, but to allow them the freedom to choose variety and number of items at each meal.
Discontinuing the service of foods containing a specific ingredient, such as peanuts, would eliminate the possibility of student exposure to that ingredient. Items that do not contain peanuts in any form may be produced in manufacturing plants that also produce peanut products, often on the same production line. Despite careful review of ingredient statements there is no guarantee that a product not labeled as containing peanuts does not indeed include this ingredient or included in error by the manufacturer. In addition, this does not address the issue of students bringing peanut-containing items from home.
It is not possible to establish and maintain a “peanut-free environment” in the cafeteria. As such, parents with concerns regarding special needs may be well advised to consult with their medical professionals, the school administration and the on-site health care professional, such as the school nurse, to ascertain the best course of action for their children and to assist students in making appropriate choices. Monthly menus are posted in each cafeteria and can be accessed on the website.