Children with Disabilities and Special Dietary Needs
Schools participating in a federal school meal program (National School Lunch Program, School
Breakfast Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, Special Milk Program, and Afterschool Snack
Program) are required to make reasonable accommodations for children who are unable to eat the
school meals because of a disability that restricts the diet.
1. Licensed Medical Authority’s Statement for Children with Disabilities
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations at 7 CFR Part 15b require substitutions or
modifications in school meals for children whose disabilities restrict their diets. School food
authorities must provide modifications for children on a case-by-case basis when requests are
supported by a written statement from a state licensed medical authority.
The third page of this document (“Medical Plan of Care for School Food Service”) may be used to
obtain the required information from the licensed medical authority. For this purpose, a state
licensed medical authority in Pennsylvania includes a:
• Physician assistant,
• Certified registered nurse practitioner, or
The written medical statement must include:
• An explanation of how the child’s physical or mental impairment restricts the child’s diet;
• An explanation of what must be done to accommodate the child; and
• The food or foods to be omitted and recommended alternatives, if appropriate.
2. Other Special Dietary Needs
School food service staff may make food substitutions for individual children who do not have a
medical statement on file. Such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and all
accommodations must be made according to USDA’s meal pattern requirements. Schools are encouraged,
but not required, to have documentation on file when making menu modifications within the meal
Special dietary needs and requests, including those related to general health concerns, personal
preferences, and moral or religious convictions, are not disabilities and are optional for school
food authorities to accommodate. Meal modifications for non-disability reasons are reimbursable
provided that these meals adhere to Program regulations.
3. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of
1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, a person with a disability means any person who has a
physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or major
bodily functions, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
A physical or mental impairment does not need to be life threatening in order to constitute a
disability. If it limits a major life activity, it is considered a disability.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks,
seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing,
learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also
includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to: functions of the
immune system; normal cell growth; and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
4. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
A child with a disability under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is
described as a child evaluated in accordance with IDEA as having one or more of the recognized
thirteen disability categories and who, by reason thereof, needs special education and related
services. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement for a child with a
disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the IDEA and its
implementing regulations. When nutrition services are required under a child's IEP, school
officials need to ensure that school food service staff is involved early in decisions regarding
special meals. If an IEP or 504 plan includes the same information that is required on a medical
statement (see section 1, above), then it is not necessary to get a separate medical statement.
School Nutrition Program Contact
For more information about requesting accommodations to school meals and the meal service for
students with disabilities at Bedford Area School District please contact:
Betsy Littlefield (Food Service Director) at 623-4236 or firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights
regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions
participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race,
color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights
activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information
(e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency
(State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or
have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.
Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint
Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, and at any
USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information
requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your
completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3) email: email@example.com.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Please click the link below for the Medical Plan of Care for School Food Service form