Celiac.com 06/12/2006 - Starting with the May 2006 school lunch menu, the Mendon Upton Regional School District will be serving gluten free meals. Mr. Paul Daigle, Superintendent of Schools commented: “Food allergies have become an increasingly important area of concern in our public schools. The district is committed to provide all students with a safe and healthy school lunch experience.” Anne Crisafulli, the district’s Food Service Coordinator, put her can-do attitude to work to identify and provide for gluten free meals to be available for the children in the district who have celiac disease and/or are gluten sensitive.

Some of the gluten free offerings that will be available in May include, bagel lunches, pizza, taco bar, brunch, pasta, grilled cheese, peanut butter & jelly sandwich, turkey wraps and hot dogs. Most of these items traditionally contain gluten, which is a protein found in oats, wheat, barley and rye. After much research, Ms. Crisafulli made specific product purchases to be used in the gluten free meal preparation and hopes to expand it’s gluten free options in the future.

Gluten Intolerance and Sensitivity is becoming more prevalent among our nation’s children and our small community is no exception. Gluten intolerance or sensitivity results in adverse reactions after consuming the protein gluten. Consumption of gluten, for those who are intolerant or sensitive to the protein, results in intestinal damage that can lead to a multitude of complications due to malabsorption of nutrients. Both disorders involve varying symptoms that can include headaches, joint & muscle pain, mood swings, skin conditions, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. Treatment involves a strict lifelong adherence to a gluten free diet.

The support offered by the Mendon Upton Regional School District to children is a paramount success to those with gluten intolerance. It is estimated that 1 in every 133 people in our country has celiac disease, and many are yet to be properly diagnosed. This new initiative will allow children with dietary restrictions the opportunity to identify menu items that are safe for their very strict diets. This will help them to prepare for the real life choices they will need to make now, as they grow and as they become adults and go out into the world.

A new parent group will be formed to identify and address gluten and other common food issues that are of concern in the Mendon Upton public school system. The kickoff meeting is scheduled for May 18, 2006 at 7:00 in the Miscoe Hill School Auditorium. For more information please contact one of the chairpersons: Diane Mercier (508) 529-4433, Shirley Warren (508) 529-3552 or Daniele West (508) 634-3936.

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