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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act has simplified what determines a disability and it should no longer require extensive analysis.

SFAs and local educational agencies (LEA) should not be involved in analyzing documentation to determine whether a particular physical or mental impairment is severe enough to qualify as a disability.

Such determinations are only made on a case-by-case basis. 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.

This provision covers those children who have food intolerances or allergies, but do not have life-threatening reactions (anaphylactic reactions) when exposed to the food(s) to which they have problems. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g.

This includes those accommodations related to religious or moral convictions or personal preference.

The USDA will issue separate guidance on accommodating special dietary needs and preferences that are not considered a disability.

The USDA regulations under Title 7, ), sections 15b and 15b.26(d), implements Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) nondiscrimination requirements on recipients of federal financial assistance, such as SFAs, to serve special meals at no extra charge to children with disabilities.A written and signed medical statement must support the child’s IEP.[Note: The preceding three sentences are no longer valid.Per USDA SP 26-2017, dated 4-25-17, if the child’s IEP or 504 Plan includes the same information required in the medical statement, or if the required information is obtained by the school during the development or review of the IEP or 504 Plan, it is not necessary for the SFA to obtain a separate medical statement.] For instance, the IEP may require breakfast to be served in a school that does not participate in the SBP.While these meals may not be claimed for federal reimbursement, funds from the nonprofit school food service account may be used to cover the cost associated with providing a meal required by the IDEA. Department of Education (USDE) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the IDEA.Accommodating Students with Disabling Special Dietary Needs Schools participating in a federal Child Nutrition Program (School Lunch, School Breakfast or After School Snack Program) are required to make accommodations for children who are unable to eat the school meals because of a disability* that restricts their diet.In order to make modifications or substitutions to the school meal, schools must have a written Medical Statement on file that is signed by a licensed physician or other State licensed health care professional authorized to write medical prescriptions under State law.The California Department of Education (CDE) MB CNP-10-2015, Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs, remains in effect for the Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program until further guidance is issued.This MB provides guidance on accommodating children, with and without disabilities, who have special dietary needs.Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. 2, Meal Substitutions for Medical or Other Special Dietary Reasons in the School Meal Programs; Management Bulletin CNP-10-2015: Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs Subject: Modifications to Accommodate Disabilities in the School Meal Programs This Management Bulletin (MB) provides information and policy that supersedes Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Instruction 783-2, Rev. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided updated guidance based on their grouping of the child nutrition programs and the level of accommodation whether for a disability or special dietary needs.


  1. Bureau of Child Care Food Programs. 4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin A-17. Tallahassee, FL 32399. *Note This page contains materials in the Portable Document Format PDF. The free Foxit Reader may be required to view these files. Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School Nutrition Programs.

  2. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service states in their manual. Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in the School. Nutrition Programs, that “A growing body of Federal law clearly intends that children with disabilities have the same rights and privileges, and the same access to benefits, such as school meals.

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