Accommodating children special dietary needs school nutrition programs

Poway Unified School District is required to make reasonable accommodations for any student with a disability that restricts his/her diet, when supported by a Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Accommodations from a state licensed healthcare professional.

The California Department of Education only permits the following state licensed healthcare professionals to complete and sign the form: licensed physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.

The statement from the licensed physician must provide the following information: 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 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

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.

The child nutrition program is encouraged, but not required, to provide food substitutions or modifications for children without disabilities who have medically certified special dietary needs and are unable to eat regular meals as prepared.

Please note: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act has broadened the definition of disability, to cover most physical and mental impairments.

This policy is in accordance with a federal mandate to include all students in school nutrition programs (Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Division Management Bulletin, No.

Substitutions or modifications for children with disabilities must be based on a prescription written by a licensed physician and included in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).

The IEP should include all nutrition modifications to be made by the school cafeteria.

For more information about what constitutes a disability for the purpose of meal accommodations, please refer to the California Department of Education’s Management Bulletin SNP-02-2017, “Modifications to Accommodate Disabilities in the School Meal Programs.” If a state licensed healthcare professional deems a child’s milk allergy or intolerance to be a disability, then the Medical Statement form must be completed and signed by the licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner.

Appropriate accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis (e.g. In cases of non-disabling milk allergy or intolerance, a parent/guardian may request soy milk to be provided as a substitute for cow’s milk.

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