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March 8, 2008

Meal Planning, Food and Diet, School and Daycare

Question from Kentucky, USA:

I need help determining the school’s obligation to provide carbohydrate information about school lunch. I provided a copy of Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs by the USDA and a statement of medical necessity from the endocrinologist stating that we must know the carbohydrate content of foods. The school district food service director says that the USDA only requires the substitution of foods when medically necessary, but does not require them to provide the nutrition information. She said that they only have to provide accommodation for my daughter if the doctor wrote a specific menu for my child. She also said that if I’m that concerned, my daughter should just take her lunch from home. How can I find out specifically what information, if any, the school is obligated to provide? This effects many children in our district and I feel very passionate about it, but I hate the thought of getting into an expensive legal battle unless I am pretty sure I can win. I would appreciate any advice on how to proceed.


From: DTeam Staff

Please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES to discuss this further with ADA’s Legal Advocacy staff.

I assume that the document you reference is Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Programs.

Menu adjustments are considered” related services” under applicable federal laws so it is the school’s legal obligation to provide menu selections and information in order to meet the needs of students with disabilities who qualify for services under one of these laws (Section 504, ADAct, IDEA).

I encourage your school to consult with a dietitian to calculate accurate carbohydrate counts and other nutritional information. Also, be a resource for your child’s school. One of the steps you might take is to provide nutritional information from other school district menus to show your school that it can easily be done.