September 27, 2016, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued SP 59-2016: Policy Memorandum on Modifications to Accommodate Disabilities in the School Meal Programs. To view SP 59-2016, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/policy-memorandum-modificationsaccommodate-disabilities-school-meal-programs. This memorandum replaced FNS Instruction 783-2, Rev. 2: Meal Substitutions for Medical or other Special Dietary Reasons as the instruction relates to the School Meal Programs.
According to the ADA, physical or mental impairment do not need to be life threatening to constitute a disability. For example, a food allergy does not need to cause anaphylaxis in order to be considered a disability. However, general health concerns, such as a preference that a child eat a specific diet because the parent or guardian believes it is healthier for the child, are not disabilities and do not require a modification.
Sometimes, children require meal modification that diverge from the Program meal pattern. In order to receive Federal reimbursement for modified meals that do not meet the Program meal pattern requirements, SFS’ must require a written medical statement signed by a State licensed healthcare professional. (and individual who is authorized to write medical prescriptions under State law. This may include a doctor, a nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant. If a meal modification for a child’s disability can be made within the Program meal pattern, a medical statement is not necessary and FNS does not require SFA’s to obtain a medical statement.
When a medical statement is required (when the modification does not meet meal pattern requirements) the medical statement must include the following: Information about the child’s physical or mental impairment that is sufficient to allow the SFA to understand how it restricts the child’s diet, An explanation of what must be done to accommodate the child’s disability, and The food or foods to be omitted and recommended alternatives, in the case of a modified meal.
If you feel your student is in need of a meal modification due to and allergy or other disability, you may:
Under the Procedural Safeguards requirements, the following grievances forms may be used for the prompt resolution of grievances that include the option for an impartial hearing. (Grievance Form). As a parent or guardian you have the right to File a grievance if you believe a violation has occurred regarding the request for a reasonable modification; Receive a prompt and equitable resolution to the grievance; Be represented by counsel at the hearing; Examine the record; and Receive notice of the final decision and a procedure for review.
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