January 5, 2007
School and Daycare
Question from Kentucky, USA:
My daughter attends day care and we have to provide lunch for her, My husband and I have very busy schedules so we pack our daughter low and no carbohydrate lunches so that we don't have to go and give her insulin shots at school. I received a letter yesterday stating that she has to have a lunch based on food guidelines required by the state, but I can't seem to find such guidelines in our state laws. They informed me that she has to have fruit juice or milk protein, vegetable, dairy, fruit and bread in her lunch box each day and she will not be permitted to have sugar-free drinks because it's not fair to the other children for her to have Kool-Aid and Diet 7-up, but yet they have parties every week with cookies and cakes for the other children. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on this issue or similar stories to share to comfort me because I feel that she is being left out because of her diabetes. It seems unfair and I would like to get some thoughts on the subject.
If she attends a private day care, the laws may not apply. If this is state or federally operated/funded, then the laws against diabetes discrimination apply. But, you should contact the American Diabetes Association Safe at Schools group for guidelines. Also, the ADA has a superb school advocacy group with free legal assistance. I would encourage you to speak to the school owners and/or leaders since you are absolutely correct that this is not only discriminatory but also contrary to diabetes management principles. The school chapter in my own textbook has some details that you could share with the school if the ADA info is not enough.
Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:
I suggest you have your doctor write a letter with a prescription for her school lunch requirements. Perhaps sugar-free flavored water would be more acceptable to the day care, though I do agree she should be allowed to drink whatever sugar-free drink she wants.