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March 20, 2002

Meal Planning, Food and Diet, School and Daycare

Question from Stewartville, Minnesotta, USA:

My son, who is in second grade and has had diabetes for almost two years, recently started insulin pump therapy. Although we have always counted carbs from the beginning (Before the pump we simply used carb exchanges.), now we are using grams of carbohydrate, and I seem to be having problems with the school cafeteria providing the carb counts. Last year, the lunch program manager did so with several rude comments. This year has just turned into a nightmare. She refused to meet with me or provide the carb counts during the first two weeks of school because she claimed she was just to busy, and I requested this meeting two weeks ahead of time. About a month later, she also claimed not to have the time, and I told her to forward it straight to the nurse's office, but he was going to eat lunch that day. Another month went by came and I phoned her, but she did not return my calls for two days. I phoned her again, and she said she would get back with me and never did. During that conversation she once again made a very rude remark about the way I take care of my son's diabetes. She will put new items on the menu even though she does not have any nutritional information for that food. Today, my son was denied the main entree (alternate provided) because they had no idea what the carb count was. He came home crying because of this. Can the school place food on their menus with no nutritional information available? Is there anything I can do to require the school to provide this information ahead of time so that he can eat what the other kids are eating?

Answer:

I empathize with your situation, you don’t wan’t your son to be singled out simply because he monitors his carb intake. If the school remains persistent in not providing accurate nutritional information for the lunches they serve, then I would ask for a menu ahead of time, so that hopefully you and your son can “pre-plan” lunch carbohydrate counts before eating that day in the cafeteria. Use the experience you have gained at home with portion estimation and label reading and transfer it to the school cafeteria situation. I hope that the school will be more helpful with regards to nutrition information, because you can bet that you and your son are not the only ones requiring this information.

JMS
Additional comments from David S. Holtzman, Esq.:

I would request a meeting with the school’s principal. Explain the situation just a you have done here. Be polite but firm–You expect to be provided this information. If you get no satisfaction with the principal, demand to meet with the superintendent of schools for your district. Also, have you considered speaking at a school board meeting? Perhaps a school board member has diabetes or a family member with the disease. In short, don’t let this minor functionary blow you off. You are seeking vital information that the school has a duty to provide on request.

DSH