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AboutTricia Thompson, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and has a MS degree in nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA degree in English Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.
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If you have a child with celiac disease, one of your concerns may be school lunch and making sure it is gluten free.
The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) (www.americanceliac.org), a non-profit organization that advocates for the celiac disease community, conducted a survey of parents with children on gluten-free diets. About 1/3 of the parents responded yes when asked if they had ever approached their child’s school about providing gluten-free meals. Of these, approximately 38 percent stated that their child’s school refused to provide gluten-free meals.
Can your child’s school refuse to provide gluten-free meals?
Because the National School Lunch Program receives federal funding it can not discriminate on the basis of disability. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “…substitutions must be made for children who are unable to eat school meals because of their disabilities when that need is certified by a licensed physician.”
A disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Eating is considered a major life activity. Many diseases and conditions qualify as “disabilities.” Severe allergies that result in anaphylactic reactions are considered “disabilities” but other allergies and food intolerances such as lactose intolerance are not. According to The National Food Service Management Institute, celiac disease is considered a “disability.”
What you need to do
To help ensure that your child receives gluten-free meals at school you need a signed statement from your child’s doctor that includes information about celiac disease, why celiac disease prevents your child from eating the regular school breakfast/lunch/snack, the foods that must not be eaten on a gluten-free diet, and gluten-free foods that should be substituted.
If this doesn’t work
While it sounds like a request for gluten-free meals should be accommodated, this is not always the case, as ... Continue
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