Accommodating children with special dietary needs in the school

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A food intolerance or an allergy that does not cause anaphylaxis does not meet the definition of a disability.

If your student has special dietary needs, please review the Guidelines for Accommodating Children with Special Needs.

The guidance addresses IDEA 2004 and the ADA and makes it clear that if a student has a documented disability that restricts her diet, the school food service department must make the substitutions in lunches and afterschool snacks for the student.

If a meal modification for a child’s disability can be made within the Program meal pattern, a medical statement is not necessary.

a life-threatening reaction when exposed to the food and/or beverage) when the following two requirements are met: For children with disabilities only requiring modifications in food texture (such as chopped, ground, or pureed), a licensed physician's written instructions indicating the appropriate texture is recommended, but not required.

Child Nutrition Program Sponsor​s can receive reimbursement for meals without milk if they operate Offer versus Serve (OVS), under which milk or other meal component(s) could be declined by a student.

If a requested substitution meets the meal pattern requirements under any child nutrition program, the substitution can be made, but is not required.​​​ Substitutions must be made to the regular meal, including milk for any child with disabilities (i.e.

If your child’s IEP includes a nutrition component, the school is required to offer special meals, at no additional cost, if your child’s disability restricts her diet.

Nutrition Services in Cases of Food Allergies When accommodating a child’s food allergy, no food item offered to the child may contain traces of substances that may trigger an allergic reaction.

See more guidance about managing food allergies in schools in According to the ADA, physical or mental impairments do not need to be life threatening to constitute a disability.

For example, a food allergy does not need to cause anaphylaxis in order to be considered a disability.

A non-life threatening allergy may be considered a disability and require a meal modification, if it impacts major bodily functions or other major life activities.

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