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Schools Have To Provide gluten-free Lunch?


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20 replies to this topic

#1 strawberrygm

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 09:12 AM

I was told yesterday that schools have to by law provide gluten free lunches to children diagnosed with celiac.
Is this true?
Do any of you have this done?
How much of a fight was it?
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dd age 12 -- diagnosed celiac via 2 positive bloodtests april 08 & biopsy june 08
ds age 5 -- bloodwork negative aug 2008
ds age 3 -- not tested yet
ds infant -- not tested yet

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#2 Phyllis28

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 10:15 AM

I do not have any personal experience but below is the link the National School Lunch Program that provides Discounted and Free lunches based on need. Several documents came up when I put in Special Diet in the search box. I also got results when I put in Celiac. I do not know if these guidelines apply if your family does not qualify for Discounted or Free lunches.


http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/lunch/
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Phyllis

Gluten Free - 30 years

#3 slmprofesseur

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 11:32 AM

Unless you are eligible, I don't think the school has to provide a Gluten-free lunch. Some day care providers are required to if they participate in a reimbursement program. I went through all of that with a provider. It was not easy to explain what is allowed, whats not. (My ds has too many allergies...lol). So this year I am providing my own food.
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Knitting is a gluten free hobby!

#4 lovegrov

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 12:18 PM

I'm no expert, but it's my understanding that schools have to make accommodations, but that doesn't necessarily mean providing a gluten-free lunch. It can mean providing refrigerator space or a microwave for food your child brings.

richard
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#5 Phyllis28

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 12:23 PM

I am not a expert either, but I agree with lovegrov. If the all parents has the option to send a lunch then I would not think that the school would be obligated to provide a gluten free lunch.

Personally, I would feel much safer sending a lunch than relying on someone else to make one in a gluten ladened school cafeteria. My gluten eating son took his lunch nearly everyday to school K-12.
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Phyllis

Gluten Free - 30 years

#6 Juliebove

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 02:52 PM

This discussion once came up on the diabetes newsgroup. I was told by several people that by law they have to provide a safe lunch for all children. I don't see how this is possible with someone like my daughter who has multiple allergies. I just wouldn't expect them to do it. AFAIK the only allergy my daughter's school takes into account for lunches is peanuts.
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#7 slmprofesseur

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:03 PM

I was shocked when our school served shrimp poppers and peanut butter. I did my own research when the daycare director went crazy when I said I would provide ds's food (he's allergic to wheat, eggs, nuts...). This is what I found on the USDA Child Care workers meal substitutions:

Food Allergies A food allergy is an abnormal response of the body's defense − the
and Intolerances immune system − to an otherwise harmless food. Although any food may cause an allergic reaction, six foods are responsible for most of these reactions in children. These foods are peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. When in a physician’s assessment food allergies may result in severe, life-threatening reactions (anaphylactic reactions), the child would meet the definition of “having a disability”, and the food service personnel must make the substitutions prescribed by a licensed physician.


Food intolerance is an adverse food-induced reaction that does not involve the body's immune system. Lactose intolerance is one example of food intolerance. A person with lactose intolerance lacks an enzyme that is needed to digest milk sugar. When that person eats milk and milk products, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain may occur. Sponsors are not required to make food substitutions for a person with food intolerances, as food intolerances are not considered disabilities. However, food substitutions may be made, at a sponsor’s discretion, for an individual child who is medically certified as having a special medical or dietary need such as food intolerance. Such determinations are only made on a case-by-case basis and must be supported by a statement signed by a recognized medical authority that indicates which foods to avoid and to substitute.

And I also found:

Meal Substitutions A child with a disability that restricts his or her diet is entitled to
for Children with receive special meals at no extra charge, when that need is supported
Special Needs by a statement signed by a licensed physician. However, sponsors are not expected to make accommodations that are so expensive or difficult that they would cause the institution undue hardship. In most cases, children with disabilities can be accommodated with little extra expense or involvement. A statement from the child's physician is required to ensure that the substitutions in foods meet nutrition standards that are medically appropriate for that child, and to justify that the modified meal is reimbursable. The physician's statement must identify:

• the child's disability and an explanation of why the disability restricts the child's diet;
• the major life activity affected by the disability; and
• the food or foods to be omitted from the child's diet, and the food or choice of foods that must be substituted.

Sponsors are not required to make food substitutions based solely on individual or personal opinions regarding a healthful diet. Food substitutions may be made, at a sponsor's discretion, for an individual child who does not have a disability, but who is medically certified as having a special medical or dietary need. Such determinations are only made on a case-by-case basis and must be supported by a statement that indicates which foods to avoid and to substitute. This type of statement must be signed by a recognized medical authority (e.g., physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or registered nurse) or other health professional specified by the State agency.
__________________________________________________________________________________
The Food Service Inspector comes to assure that the schools and daycare providers are following the guidelines for meal planning. The only way around it is to get the "disability" I assume would be celiac or allergies documented.

I personally would not risk the issue of cc. I did explain to the sitter (who was licensed by the VA DSS) what ds could and could not eat. She had a list of meal menus according to age. It was not easy because the menu is grain based. At 6-8 months old cereal was supposed to be offered at breakfast and lunch. We tried rice cereal (Gerber and beech nut) but still had rashes, wheezing etc. She did offer to make Gluten-free, egg free pancakes etc, and I even met with the Food Services Inspector but she was clueless about food allergies. She basically said we could make our own substitutions due to the number of allergies.

The school will provide a microwave to reheat food, although again it may be a problem of cc. I am going to the preschool tomorrow to talk with my sons preschool teacher. I will let you know what i find out from the daycare director. They participate in the Child and Adult Daycare food program.
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#8 frec

 
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Posted 31 July 2008 - 09:39 PM

There is no way I would trust a school kitchen to provide a gluten free, or anything else free lunch. They are horribly underfunded and understaffed. In the district I teach in they no longer even cook in the kitchen; they just reheat large batches of unnutritious gluten-loaded chicken nuggets and pizza and corn dogs from a food service. There are fresh fruits and vegetables for the kids to choose from every day but since they serve themselves there would be massive cc.

One little celiac first grader wanted a "real" hot lunch so much that they do provide it for her once a week. She brings it to me to inspect; they mess up frequently. Usually we have to go read boxes in the kitchen to find the ingredients. (One day she said to me, "I hate modified food starch!") I think the cooks are doing it to be kind, not because of a law.
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diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002--all test numbers off the charts
dairy free since 2000, soy free since 2007
other food intolerances: citrus, sesame, potatoes, corn, coffee

fibromyalgia, osteoporosis

#9 strawberrygm

 
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Posted 01 August 2008 - 05:40 PM

oh wow.
well, even if they just provide her with refrigerator space and microwave use, that would be extremely helpful. i hate the thought of having to eat a sack lunch every day, never getting anything warm.
in our district, the food is already placed on plates, the kids just pick a plate with a main dish, then they get a plate or bowl with a side dish. so its kinda self serve but not totally. as long as the cc is under control during the prep, cook, etc..i think it will be ok if she wanted a fruit or a veggie from school. now at the high school it is completely self serve, but she is just going into 5th grade this year, so i have a few more yrs before i have to stress over that. :)
thank you so much to everyone for your imput!
i am so glad this forum is here!!!
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dd age 12 -- diagnosed celiac via 2 positive bloodtests april 08 & biopsy june 08
ds age 5 -- bloodwork negative aug 2008
ds age 3 -- not tested yet
ds infant -- not tested yet

#10 Juliebove

 
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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:53 PM

oh wow.
well, even if they just provide her with refrigerator space and microwave use, that would be extremely helpful. i hate the thought of having to eat a sack lunch every day, never getting anything warm.
in our district, the food is already placed on plates, the kids just pick a plate with a main dish, then they get a plate or bowl with a side dish. so its kinda self serve but not totally. as long as the cc is under control during the prep, cook, etc..i think it will be ok if she wanted a fruit or a veggie from school. now at the high school it is completely self serve, but she is just going into 5th grade this year, so i have a few more yrs before i have to stress over that. :)
thank you so much to everyone for your imput!
i am so glad this forum is here!!!


My daughter has thermoses so I can send in hot food. I either use leftovers, or cooked rice with a cooked chicken breast chopped up, soup, or some pre-made gluten free meals like chicken and rice, chicken and beans, chili or pasta. She only gets 20 minutes for lunch though and some of that time is take up with writing down the homework assignments for the day. I have been there at lunch time and it is chaos. The kids inhale their food and are expected to get on to other things. The lunches they serve are very small too. I was shocked! One day they had what appeared to be canned Ravioli. They had little dishes with three Raviolis in them. There was also a tiny salad and I think some sort of fruit. The kids had it all gone in about 5 minutes.
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#11 ptkds

 
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Posted 02 August 2008 - 06:22 PM

I tried to let my dd eat at school. They did try to provide her a safe lunch, but it was a disaster. They only served her a hot dog weiner or a hamburger patty, fries, and fruit. They did change gloves before serving her food, but I don't think it was ever safe. I send her lunch every day and keep snacks up there. I also asked the teacher to call me ASAP if they realize she doesn't have her lunch for some reason.

IMO, it just isnt worth it. The lunch ladies are already frazzled after making meals for hundreds of kids, they don't have time to concentrate on protecting a meal. CC is a huge problem in there.
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ptkds

Mom of 4 beautiful girls (the 2 youngest are only 10 months apart!)
Diagnosed with Celiac disease on November 8, 2006; gluten-free as of 12-1-06.

DD#2 13 years old; diagnosed on November 28, 2006. gluten-free as of 12-7-06.
DD#3 9 years old; diagnosed through blood work in October 2006. Gluten-free as of mid-November and doing GREAT!!
DD#4 8 years old; had a scope done on 6-22-07 (at 14 months old) and the dr saw stomach ulcers, but all test results were negative. GI dr told us to put her on the gluten free diet anyway. She is gluten free as of 6-22-07.


#12 ryebaby0

 
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Posted 02 August 2008 - 07:06 PM

It is true that the Americans w/Disabilities Act requires school districts to make "reasonable accomodations" for students with documented medical food issues. Our district (www.scasd.org) has forms you fill out, then you have a meeting with the food service director and then the building cafeteria director to determine what you can and cannot have. We have a friend with severe dairy allergies who has negotiated with great success. We know celiacs who have also done it successfully -- but he eats the SAME THING every day. Ick.

We've chosen to send lunch, which (when it needs to be) the cafeteria staff reheats in the kitchen microwave. Never had a problem, or even been given a rough time; they couldn't have been nicer about it. In grade school a teacher saw my son's quesadillas plated up and ATE them, and boy did the lunch ladies give her !@#$ about THAT! (they kept Amy's mac/cheese in the freezer for emergencies, so he did eat). He starts 9th grade in a few weeks and already they know he's coming (but typically the first 2 weeks or so we send room-temp lunches, it's just easier for him to not worry about lunch on top of all the other back-to-school stuff)
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Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts -George Tilton

#13 Will The Thrill

 
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Posted 03 August 2008 - 07:51 AM

as long as the parents are capable of sending a lunch from home, and as long as a lunch from home does not disable the child to go to school, they do not legally need to. The only exception would be if a child was on food support, which is were they work in the kitchen and get free lunches, then i think the school would have to serve him a gluten free luch
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#14 buffettbride

 
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Posted 05 August 2008 - 10:31 AM

I wouldn't have the cafeteria produce my child's meal, even if I could make them (she's just now starting public school and has gone to private school for the last 6 years).

Now, I would take steps to see if she could get use of the microwave, but she's decided she doesn't want to do that. She's become accustomed to gluten-free foods cold (like sammiches and pasta and such). She's also 11 and likes to make less a spectacle of her different food as possible.
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#15 semperwife

 
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Posted 15 August 2008 - 07:28 AM

It is a law that the school has to provide a suitable substitution. When we were in California they didn't do cooking in the school itself, they just heated prepackaged things up. What we did was set up a seperate microwave that only Brandon could use (it was covered by the box when not being used by him). We purchased individual items such as Ian's chicken nuggets, Amy's mac and cheese, amy's enchiladas and thai kitchen noodle carts, lundburg rice pouches and all those kinds of foods. I purchased 3 months at a time using a purchase order from the district. When it was pizza day, the manager made his gluten free pizza first thing in the morning and then wrapped it once it was cooled off and put it in a holding oven. It would still be warm (room temperature).

There is a pdf file on the usda's website called "Accomodating Kids with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Program". It outlines the school's responsibilities.


Now we are in North Carolina and we are trying to work with the cafeteria because they cook everything here. Brandon wants to eat at the cafeteria like everyone else... so we are working on it. Not sure how it will work.

Brandy
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