Celiac.com 08/30/2010 - If it hasn't started yet, school's just around the corner for millions of gluten-free kids. That means a gluten-free plan for breakfast every morning, and for gluten-free lunches, and in-school and after-school snacks.

Dana Korn, author of Kids with Celiac Disease, makes some excellent suggestions for getting an early handle on any gluten-free challenges or resources that may await your child at school. Her suggestions include:
  • Empower Your Child: Encourage even young children to understand their diet, the importance of following it, and to have the confidence to mention it to adults and other kids as needed.
  • Provide Written Instructions: Provide the teachers, principal, school nurse, dietitian, or any food preparer, with clear, concise written materials explaining celiac disease and your child's diet. Include lists of safe foods and unsafe foods.
  • Make sure everyone in the school food loop knows the importance of your child remaining gluten-free. Help to make them aware of any alternative snacks or food you may have packed, along with a list of safe and unsafe foods.

Evaluate the School's Gluten-free Options

Schools often prepare food for numerous children with lactose  or gluten-intolerance, peanut allergies, or other food restrictions.  Talk to the dietitian or person in charge of food preparation. Review menus, furnish lists, and talk about the importance of avoiding cross-contamination.

If you feel comfortable with the personnel's ability to provide a gluten-free diet, give them the chance to do so. If you're not comfortable, or if it doesn't work out, you can always pack a lunch.

The Gluten Free Lunch Book offers lunch suggestions for days when children can't eat cafeteria food. Online, the blog onlysometimesclever offers up some excellent gluten-free food recipes for school day meals.

Talk to Lunchtime Supervisors

So the best you can do is explain to your child why she cant trade food with her buddies, and make sure the lunch area monitors are keeping an eye out for swappers.

Provide Teacher with Gluten-free Treats

Get a schedule of classmates birthdays and scheduled holiday parties. Plan accordingly. If your child's birthday falls on a school day, consider celebrating with gluten-free treats for the whole class.

For information on children's legal rights to reduced-cost school lunches, see section 504 of Kids with Celiac Disease.

Gluten-free Lunch Tips

Toast gluten-free bread before making sandwiches. Also, most gluten free bread travels better wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a reusable plastic container than it does in sandwich bags.

Consider keeping bread separate from sandwich ingredients. Include spreads on the side.

Last, find Gluten-Free School Lunch Recipes and information on How to Pack a Gluten-Free Lunch, along with gluten-free back-to-school resources, tips and food ideas at:

As always, Celiac.com welcomes your comments (see below).