In accordance with USDA regulations, School Food Authorities (SFAs) must ensure children with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). SFAs are to make reasonable modifications to accommodate children with disabilities. This includes providing special meals, at no extra charge, to children with a disability which restricts their diet. A disability is defined as:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.
- A record of such an impairment; or
- Being regarded as having such an impairment
SFAs are required to make substitutions to meals for children with a disability that restricts the child’s diet and only when supported by a written medical statement from a State licensed healthcare professional. In Georgia, this includes a medical professional licensed to prescribe medication, such as a Physician (Medical or Osteopathic Physician), Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant.
When a request for a modified menu is made, the written medical statement must be submitted to the School Nurse and/or Cafeteria Manager, and forwarded to the Assistant Director of Nutrition Administration. The Assistant Director will develop a menu for the student, based on their disability and share the menu with the School Nurse, Cafeteria Manager and the parents. When menu modifications or substitutions do not meet the meal pattern, a written medical statement is required in order for the meal to be eligible for reimbursement. The medical statement must include:
- A description of the child’s physical or mental impairment.
- An explanation of what must be done to accommodate the child’s disability.
- The food or foods to be omitted and recommended alternatives (if applicable)
The medical statement must be kept on file by the School Nurse, Cafeteria Manager and the Assistant Director.