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Special Dietary Needs
Physician’s Statement for Children with Disabilities and Special Dietary Needs

USDA regulations 7 CFR Part 15b require substitutions or special dietary accommodations in school meals for children whose disabilities restrict their diets. A child with a disability must be provided substitutions in foods when that need is supported by a statement signed by a licensed physician. The physician’s statement must identify:
  • Child’s disability
  • Major life activity affected by the disability
  • Food or foods to be omitted from the child’s diet
  • Food or foods that must be substituted
The MPS SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS: EATING AND FEEDING EVALUATION form is adapted from the USDA guidance: Accommodating Children with Special Needs: Guidance for School Food Service Staff, and may be used to obtain the required information from the physician and/or medical authority (see reference below).

Managing Severe/Life Threatening Food Allergies with Anaphylactic Reactions

If the physician’s assessment indicates that the food allergy may result in severe, lifethreatening (anaphylactic) reactions, the child’s condition would meet the definition of a “disability.” In such cases, the prescribed substitutions by the licensed physician must be made. In addition, a licensed physician must then sign the MPS SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS: EATING AND FEEDING EVALUATION form (yellow section).

Managing (Non-severe) Food Allergies and/or Food Intolerances

The school food service authority is not required to make food substitutions for children with non-severe food allergies or food intolerances, who do not have a disability as defined under either Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or Part B of IDEA.

The school food service authority may choose to make food substitutions, at their discretion, for individual children who do not have a disability, but who are medically certified as having a special medical or dietary need. Determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. This provision covers those children who have food intolerances or allergies but do not have lifethreatening reactions. In this case, a Medical Authority (other than a licensed Physician) can complete and sign the MPS SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS: EATING AND FEEDING EVALUATION form. The completed and signed form must be sent to the School Nutrition Services department.

Other Special Dietary Needs (Religious Restrictions)

If there is no known allergy, food intolerance or disability, but the parent requests that a specific food be eliminated for religious reasons, the school food service authority may choose, at their discretion, to make a food substitution, but is not required to provide a substitution. In this case, the parent may complete, sign and return the form to the food service manager.

*Reference: Accommodating Children with Special Needs: Guidance for School Foods Service Staff, United States Department of Food and Nutrition Service, Fall 2001. http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Guidance/default.htm
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