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Special Diets

Nutrition Services has a policy of providing modified menus for students who have physical or mental disabilities or special dietary needs and are unable to consume a regular breakfast or lunch. This policy is in accordance with a federal mandate to include all students in school nutrition programs (Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Division Management Bulletin, No. 07-2014, California Department of Education.)

Nutrition staff, school nurses, and parents are encouraged to further explore the Nutrition Services web site to obtain resources for students with special dietary needs. Resources include a Medical Statement form, Nutrient Information Lists, Allergy Information table and other important information. District staff may access the complete policy and procedure for “Meals for Students with Disabilities and/or Special Dietary Needs” in ABCs of Your Child Nutrition Program, on our Staff Resources page on the left.

Topics on this page:


Special Dietary Needs for Students WITH Disabilities

  • Nutrition Services is required to offer special meals, at no additional cost, to students whose disability restricts their diet as defined in USDA’s nondiscrimination regulations, 7 CFR, Part 15b.
  • A child with a disability must be provided substitutions of special foods, including special supplements, when a statement signed by “a recognized medical authority” (licensed physicians, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner) supports that need. “The Medical Statement to Request Special Meals” form must be signed by an a recognized medical authority and may be duplicated. The Medical Statement form is available below:
  • The completion of the Medical Statement is required to ensure that the modified meal is reimbursable, and to ensure that any meal modifications meet nutrition standards that are medically appropriate for the child.
  • Medical Statements are in effect until the condition changes or until the student transfers, promotes to a new school, or leaves the district. If the condition changes, a revised Medical Statement form signed by a recognized medical authority must be submitted.
  • For children with disabilities who only require modifications in texture (such as chopped, ground, or pureed foods), a recognized medical authority's written instruction, indicating the appropriate food texture is recommended, but not required.


Special Dietary Needs of Students WITHOUT Disabilities

Nutrition Services may make reasonable accommodations for students who are not disabled, but who are unable to consume a food item because of medical or other special dietary needs. Such determinations will be made on a case by case basis when supported by a statement (using the Medical Statement form), signed by a recognized medical authority (licensed physicians, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner). This provision covers those students who have allergies or food intolerances but do not have life-threatening or anaphylactic reactions.

Responsibilities of Parents/Guardians

Parents/Guardians must provide a completed Medical Statement form that includes the following:

  • The student’s disability or medical condition
  • The diet prescription and/ or accommodation including texture modifications and adaptive equipment, if needed
  • The food(s) to be omitted and the suggested substitutions
  • Which meal(s) the student will participate in (breakfast and/or lunch)
  • Signature of appropriate medical authority and date

To ensure accurate meal service, parents are requested to:

  • Communicate the student’s special dietary need to school staff when the student transfers or promotes to a different school or district.
  • Communicate any dietary change as prescribed by medical authority.

Nutrition Services takes a conservative approach to food allergies and includes all foods that may contain trace amounts of the top eight allergens: soy, fish, shellfish, peanut, tree nuts, dairy, egg, and wheat. Requests for changes in dietary accommodations or needs should be requested in writing to the Child Nutrition Specialists and include the recognized medical authority signature and date.

Responsibilities of Middle or High School Students and Parents/Guardians

  • Older students with food allergies or special dietary needs are responsible for making the appropriate menu selections from the information provided from the Nutrition Service web site. Additional assistance is available upon request.
  • Carbohydrate counts and nutrient-content for menu items are available on the Nutrition Services web site for students/parents to plan appropriate meal choices.
  • Some students may have the nutrition staff select breakfast and lunch menu items from the written plan. In this case, students and staff must schedule a predetermined location for the student(s) to receive the prepared meals.


Special Modified Diets for Students

  • Allergy Information Table (for peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, egg, soy, fish and milk)
  • Diabetic-Carbohydrate-controlled
  • Gluten-free for Celiac disease
  • Sodium-restricted
  • Resource: for Nutrient Information Lists, see Menus by grade level.


Diet Modifications for Religious or Personal Preferences, Including Vegetarian

The Nutrition Services Branch offers a variety of menu items daily through the District’s school cafeterias. The “offer versus serve” method of service allows students to make their food selections from the variety of foods offered. Meatless items and menu items containing pork are indicated on the menus. This can assist parents in advising their child in making food selections in the cafeteria. Meatless options are available throughout the month. Yogurt and housemade granola is available daily. Other options include grilled cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, bean and cheese burrito, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich (select sites). Additionally, fruit and vegetable offerings are available daily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: My child has a dairy allergy. How do I arrange for milk-free foods?
A: Please provide a signed Medical Statement from a “medical authority” (nurse practitioner, licensed physician or physician’s assistant). Food items that contain dairy such as cheese, yogurt or ranch salad dressing can be omitted or appropriate substitutions made if the specific foods are identified on the medical statement. There is no beverage substitution available for milk unless the student has a disability. Parents are encouraged to provide students with an appropriate beverage alternative from home. Water fountains are available at every school. Additionally, all food items that contain dairy products are identified on the Allergy Information Table.

Q: My child is lactose intolerant. What can Nutrition Services provide for my child?
A: Juice is offered at breakfast to all grade levels, and Middle and High schools offers juice at both breakfast and lunch. There is no beverage substitution available for milk unless the student has a disability. Parents are encouraged to provide students with an appropriate beverage alternative from home. Water fountains are available at every school.

Q: My child is diabetic. What can be done to help keep the diabetes under control when he eats at school?
A: Nutrient information, including carbohydrate contents of menu items, is available on the Nutrient Information lists. These lists are organized by grade level: elementary, K-8, middle and high schools. Breakfast and lunch counts are listed under the appropriate group.

Q: Our family is vegetarian. Are vegetarian lunches provided?
A: Meatless options are available during the week. Families following strict vegan regimes may need to provide some lunch items from home. See details above.

Q: My child is trying to lose weight. What options are available in the school cafeteria?
A: Portion sizes are standardized and don’t permit “super sizing." Menus are planned to provide the proper calorie and nutrient content for children within each grade range. If you want to adjust the calories your child selects, please refer to the calorie content of foods on the Nutrient Information list.

Q: Where can I find nutrition information about menu items served in the school cafeteria?
A: Nutrients (calories, protein, fat, carbohydrate sodium and fiber) are found on the Nutrient Information Lists available on the Menu & Nutrient Information page. These are organized by elementary, K-8, middle and high school. Breakfast and lunch items are separated among the grade groups listed above. Generally, this information is accurate for the entire school year. Updates will be made periodically.

Q: My child has special dietary needs. How does Nutrition Services provide for them?
A: See details above on this page. For additional and more specific information, contact the Child Nutrition Specialist at (562) 427-7923.