Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Programs

MEAL SUBSTITUTIONS FOR MEDICAL OR Special DietSPECIAL 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.

Accommodating Students with Disabling Special Dietary Needs

Accommodating Students with Disabling Special Dietary Needs Schools participating in a federal Child Nutrition Program (School Lunch, School Breakfast or After School Snack Program) are required to make accommodations for children who are unable to eat the school meals because of a disability* that restricts their diet. In order to make modifications or substitutions to the school meal, schools must have a written Medical Statement on file that is signed by a licensed physician or other State licensed health care professional authorized to write medical prescriptions under State law.

The statement must identify:

  • The child’s disability
  • An explanation of why the disability restricts the child’s diet
  • The major life activity affected by the disability
  • The food(s) to be omitted from the child’s diet
  • The food or choice of foods that must be provided as the substitute

* Only a physician can declare if a student has a disability.

Click to view Instruction Sheet for Accommodating Students with Disabling Special Dietary Needs

Allergy GlossarySchool 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.

MEDICAL STATEMENT TO REQUEST SPECIAL MEALS AND/OR ACCOMMODATIONS