August 13, 2018 at 2:47 pm #91038
My son’s school has a pretty strict nutrition policy about what food can be brought from home for lunch. My son is on the small size, ranging in the 4th to 7th percentile at every visit. His doctor recommends protein shakes, especially at lunch when his Concerta is suppressing his appetite and the lunch room distractions cause my son to miss an entire meal. He might throw away his lunch, but he will drink the shake. At least I know he got the calories, fats and vitamins (we add veggies and fruits to the shake) from the shake.
Yes, we have tried just adding calories to snacks, dinners and breakfast — but you can only “add” so many. It’s hard to make up for an entire missed meal. 3 Years ago when he started this school, I received email confirmation (still have the email) from the then Dean that the protein shake were NOT against the nutrition rules and even if it was, an exception would be made for my son.
Now, first week of this school year, and all of a sudden, the protein shake is outlawed. I re-read the handbook, it didn’t change. They are requiring a doctor’s note for a protein shake. My son has an appointment on the 31st with his doctor. So my question is this, so this back and forth stops, should I add this to his IEP, which already addresses his ADHD? Or should I just get his doctor to write the note but go beyond the protein shake to any nutrient rich-but high fat food? In his doctors opinion, if he likes it, give it to him – within reason. The school is super strict. Their drink choices are water or reduced sugar juice from home. When considering that, we actually found a protein shake with less sugar than reduced sugar juice. No candy, no chips, 100 snack packs are okay, sandwiches are okay, fruit okay.
August 14, 2018 at 10:48 am #91116
Yes, I would get it in his IEP. If he were diabetic, he’d need to adhere to a specific diet and that would be in a 504 plan or IEP.
I can’t believe there are schools policing food to this extent. I do think kids need to eat better, a lot better, but some kids just won’t.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
August 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm #91241
August 20, 2018 at 11:44 am #91694
We had an issue with our elementary school inspecting my child’s lunch. Telling her it was not nutritious so she would not eat. She has many food allergies and kidney/ gastro issues so her food was recommended by a doctor. The school is not allowed to ban food items unless they are a danger to other children, such as peanuts. The teacher picking on my child had absolutely no education on nutrition and they do not have a licensed nutritionist on staff. They stopped the lunch inspections because I pointed out the food they serve in school is packed with crap. I had a doctors note on file and specific instructions that the school is not allowed to tell my daughter what to eat. If your child goes to a cafeteria for lunch the staff their will not be aware of the IEP. Be firm. Their behavior is directly impacting your son’s health and education. When a child is hungry they do not focus.
August 20, 2018 at 11:59 am #91697
This infuriates me – The stupidity and lack of common sense in OUR public schools (they work for us) shows no limits. Separate issue on schools regulating what kids are eating instead of parents regulating it (how, when & why did parents acquiesce this?) is a discussion for another time and post.
I would track down the Food Service Manager at the school/district today and tell her what the issue is. Request that she direct her staff to allow special cases, and let her know a letter from the doctor will be forthcoming but until then, cafeteria staff need to back the $#@& off your son.
August 20, 2018 at 12:18 pm #91700
I am an Educational Advocate and my recommendation is that you go the medical route for a few reasons. Firstly, it will be immediate and can be incorporated into the IEP later since modifications need to go through a more formal process. Secondly, it should be under the supervision of the nursing office, and the school will be more likely to respond positively and enforce it more consistently. Thirdly, if you wanted to change or add to it at any point, it will be a lot easier doing it with a doctor’s note rather than as part of an IEP. In terms of what to put in the letter, I would recommend listing every possible nutritional item that will come from home whether it is currently approved or not by the school (if there are a lot, you could categorize them rather than itemize them). Also, make sure that your son’s doctor writes enough to demonstrate the medical need but no more than necessary because the details of his condition are confidential and none of the school’s business; in other words, the letter does not need to make a case that he should have these items but state that they are recommended by his doctor for medical reasons. It should also state how/when he should consume these, for example, with his medications or at his discretion, or both in order to give him the flexibility to be in control of what he eats/drinks. You may want to print up a list of all the food and drink items to bring to the doctor’s appointment to make it easier for the medical staff to draft a complete and accurate letter. If your son’s school starts before the appointment, see if you can get the letter written prior to the appointment. One thing to keep in mind is that the school’s request for a medical note for students to ingest anything protects them and you. Although they sound like they may be going a bit overboard, try not to feel that they are being unnecessarily difficult or doing their job poorly. They probably should have requested it from the beginning rather than made an informal agreement or an exception. I hope this helps. Good luck!
August 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm #91701
I understand where the school is coming from …. in part. YES – some kids need to eat healthier, and IF a parent is sending nothing but oreos and chips, well okay. However, what is healthy for one child – may not be healthy for another. Just like I wouldn’t send my older son with the same protein shake I send this son. For my older son, it’s TOO many calories. What exactly is unhealthy about a protein shake with an apple, spinach, carrot and pinapple mixed in, and then a clif bar, half a sandwich and an all natural organic fruit leather in a hope he’ll get some solids?
I’ve let the school know I’ll be sending the shake daily until his doctor’s appointment and will comply with their request; however, have also let them know that the doctor’s note will extend past just the shake and encompass his diet plan in it’s entirety. I’ve also requested an IEP review.
Son reports they shortened the lunch period to 20 minutes, and he is able to get a Clif bar down and part of his sandwich, but did admit he’s still throwing a lot of it away. But does drink his shake since he said he can drink and talk easier.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Pump2Duncan.
August 20, 2018 at 1:29 pm #91725
I agree with others that start with the medical route, then add to the IEP. In addition, if you’re still having trouble getting this implemented, or even in addition to, you may want to consider meeting him directly after school with another shake. We have had weight gain issues with my daughter and this is one tactic that we have found to be helpful, plus I’m able to make sure she drinks all of it (which is sometimes a concern).
August 20, 2018 at 1:47 pm #91735
If he went to a school with a normal school day, I would just prepare a shake for after school; however, his school day is from 7:30 – 4:30, and by the time he gets home from the bus, it’s 5:00 and that’s pretty much time for dinner. Extended school day for their academic program. Their academic program and consistent-never-changing routine are hands-down amazing.
August 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm #91738
We had the same situation (where our son needed the extra nutrition), we had the doctor write a note and had added to his 504 plan. The school is required to provide accommodations like this…that is what a 504 plan is for as malnutrition is a major contributor to school performance.
If you need options…we use the Boost High Protein (with 20g of protein per drink). While it has 15g of sugar, he loves the taste and we know he will drink it. Our son actually drinks it in class, right after recess in the afternoon. That way it supplements what he may eat for lunch vs. replaces it. We needed a high protein drink that my son would actually like, as we have a difficult time ensuring he has enough protein because of his texture issues so this one fits our needs. These are much cheaper ordering on Walmart.com versus getting at the grocery store. FYI – Boost also has a lower sugar one (16g protein, 4g sugar – glucose control), which may be an option but we haven’t tried that yet as it is way more expensive.
Good luck!!! I know what a worry your son not eating can be, so my prayers are with you.
August 20, 2018 at 3:19 pm #91744
My daughter had the diagnosis of “failure to thrive” and almost had a feeding tube. Get a note from the doctor saying your child can have whatever they want to eat or drink during the day. He should be able to eat what he wants during lunch in the lunchroom. He may need to go to the nurses office for snacks during the day, though. My daughter had to have a nurse supervise her lunch, so she ate in the nurses office. If they suggest that, I would fight that. It only alienates our kids more. Good luck!
August 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm #91761
Do not accept this. You are his parents. You are paying THEM. They can’t tell you what your child can eat or not (unless you were a negligent parent or something, which it certainly sounds like you are not). Don’t hand over your power like that. They sound very controlling. What kind of school is this? I hope that you realize the power that you have and that everything works out well for your son.
August 20, 2018 at 4:49 pm #91767
This post really hit a nerve with me – I logged to post my first reply here!
First of all, as a parent I am completely horrified of the idea that a school nutrition policy would in any way extend to a lunch sent from home. I realize the days of birthday cookies for the class are over, but to tell me what to send with my kid in his lunch when the issue isn’t a peanut allergy? I would be livid. I’m surprised you don’t have a plethora of angry parents.
I know the point here is to get you the help you need for your own kid, and you have some great advice to help you, but as a parent of a child with serious medical issues in addition to ADHD, who had both a g-tube and a j-tube for 8 years and still isn’t even on the growth chart at all for his age; and as a parent who knows a lot about managing the nutrition AND emotional issues regarding food in a family of children with very different nutritional needs, I’m saying this is a policy worth fighting. I know you probably don’t have time to lead a protest or anything 😉 but I hope that as you get the approval you need for your child, you can use your situation to diplomatically point out the flaws in the policy.
I believe in good nutrition, and i believe in a nutrition policy that guides what the school serves and food that’s shared in class. At the end of the day, though, I reserve the RIGHT to send my kids with a lunchbox full of cookies – even though I never would. I can promise there are other children who are impacted by this policy and are not getting what they need because they don’t have a doctor’s note or their parents aren’t as educated and assertive as you.
August 20, 2018 at 5:24 pm #91770
I semi-understand where the school is coming from, I know the INTENT of their policy comes from a well meaning place. Pizza is one of my son’s all time favorite foods. Even family members have commented to me (and him) when he reaches in the box for his 4th slice. “Don’t you think he’s had enough?” “Slow down, you’ve had enough.” I’ve educated these people on what is “healthy” for him, isn’t healthy for everyone. Extra butter, extra sour cream, extra extra extra — that’s healthy for him. And he’s still only in the 4th percentile (he fell off without the protein shakes). These same people will comment on how skinny he is. So it’s kind-of like, damned if you do – damned if you don’t.
Since lunch time is one of the only times he gets to socialize, I absolutely do not want to isolate him further by forcing him to eat separate from other students – I absolutely will not allow that. His doctor says this is a common issue with ADHD children on a stimulant medication and so long as we maintain the slow incremental growth he has been managing, he would rather not make food an issue as much as possible. At home, it’s sit down meals with no distractions – protein and veggies first- followed by whatever starch is on the menu and I try to sneak in extra real butter or coconut oil onto his plate.
I guess if I’m honest, that’s what bothers me the most. Why is this an issue now too? Why can’t anything be easy for this kid? Why does he have to be questioned about even his lunch on his second day of school? Seriously, can’t they at least give this kid his lunch break? When I got the text from the teacher just saying “have concerns about your sons protein shake” I seriously asked him if he was playing, sharing or making a mess with it at school. I couldn’t believe it when they said it wasn’t allowed.
I guess in a society where everyone is so focused on healthy eating, we’ve forgotten that there’s different standards for different people.
August 20, 2018 at 7:21 pm #91776
We have found that it is best to get a note/script from the Doctor for things that deal with nutrition. Our little guy has reactive hypoglycemia and cannot tolerate the high number of carbs in a school breakfast and lunch. We asked the school to not allow him to eat the school meals, but it was hit and miss. Once I had the doctor write the script that said “Please do not allow _____ to eat a school breakfast or lunch it was put into place immediately. Then it will carry more weight in the IEP.
August 21, 2018 at 9:05 am #91802
Yes, I would and did have it put in my son’s IEP. Because my son’s meds have an appetite suppressant he will skip lunch causing him to be “hanrgy’ later in the day and melt down. I had it put into his IEP he can keep snacks – healthy ones with him or his locker to get when he needs them. I also got a “fast pass” so when he feels a melt down or starts one, he flashes the pass to the teacher and goes to his safe place. Go momma bear! Hang in there!
August 21, 2018 at 11:44 am #91833
Being a teacher in special education as well as a mom to kids with special needs, I really recommend going the medical plan route. It seems that your school is coming on awfully strong without sufficient information concerning your child. Provide that information from the doctor, and try to forgive them. What will be best in the long run is developing relationships with the nurse and staff so they will not only follow the letter of the law, but follow the spirit of the law as well. Then they will most likely be right where you want them to be – looking out for your child as carefully as if he were their own.
Let us know what happens,
August 21, 2018 at 1:33 pm #91777
First, I am impressed with all the comments under this question and the wide range of experiences.
Next, it would be interesting to see a copy of this district nutrition policy and how it describes what food may be brought from home. As a Licensed School Nurse in the state of Minnesota, I assisted with development of policies regarding food allergies. I cannot even imagine what the developers of your son’s school policies must have been thinking or intending when they wrote in that no child may bring nutritional supplement drinks for lunch. I would be interested in their rationale.
Moreover, how do they police “bag lunch” contents that a student brings from home? Does the teacher inspect each bag? If the liquid supplement were the only thing coming in the lunch each day I might ask the parent about it. In most school settings, there is not time or resources sufficient to police the food a student brings to school. For example, schools can declare “allergen free” or “Peanut free” zones or classrooms, but you cannot guarantee there will not be the allergen present in the environment. Schools are public places, many are open to people in the evening too. In addition, kids are kids and will bring in things parent do not know about. Therefore, for school personnel to supervise cold lunches brought from home, they must have a tremendous amount of resources available.
A few years ago, the USDA National School Lunch Program changed some standards. It was quite clear on what could be on a school lunch menu and what must be placed on the student’s plate. There were items a student could not decline unless there was a written medical authorization to change the items due to a diagnosed medical problem.
You can read all about the program at the link above.
To my knowledge, the program guidelines outline the school lunch and it does not dictate what a student can bring to eat at lunch from home. I agree with the writers who declare that what is in a student’s cold lunch is the parents business and prerogative unless it is grossly imbalanced or inappropriate on a regular basis. The nutritional supplement may be included in an IEP or a 504 plan if medically necessary, but generally, you only want things on an educational plan that state if the student did not have that service or accommodation they would not be able to take advantage of a free public education in a least restrictive setting.
What happens if your child decides not to eat his bag lunch? Does he end up going to the school health office and calling you? Does he get a headache? Does he need to go home on a regular basis? How much, and how often, does it impair his ability to take advantage of school if he does not have the nutritional supplement?
If the school principal will not hear what you have to say, contact the superintendent of schools. If you do not feel heard, then contact a member of the school board or go to an open board meeting and ask your questions. You are probably not the only parent with questions on the policy.
August 21, 2018 at 1:33 pm #91771
Coach Agnes GreenParticipant
Question to the advocate, where does it say that schools have the right to dictate what the child eats? Especially, if it is not in the handbook. I can’t help thinking that this type of behavior by the school sets a dangerous precedence that anyone witnessing what the children eat would be able to interject their opinion regardless of their nutritional knowledge. What does the cafeteria serve? Is it all nutritionally sound? I am not asking just to be contrary but I am curious. Isn’t there laws on the books for students with a disability to protect their rights? Do these laws change from state to state? This could have been handled much better with an email or phone call to the parent, it seems to me this school made a rule on the fly without notifying the parents or any official process.
August 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm #91708
Since you are going to request an IEP meeting, and you are going to get a doctor’s note, I would consult with your son’s doctor about including in the letter a recommended timeframe for him to consume enough of his lunch. Just like your son would get more time on a test, ask for more time to eat lunch. Most likely, the school won’t like it and won’t be able to conceive of ways to execute it effectively or fairly, so come up with some options to help them find a way. For example, he could have a pass to take 5 minute break in the middle of class to eat/drink as needed (it could be limited to 2 times per day, for example), have 10 extra minutes to finish his lunch in class during the period after lunchtime, etc. For the actual amount of time, talk to your son and see how much time he actually needs with the goal being as little as possible because you do not want him to miss class or be late. Then, try to have the school work with him on making it possible without putting him at a disadvantage academically (e.g., eat in the nurse’s office or an administrative office until he finishes before going to class, because this would take too much time and being easily distracted he would likely miss too much time eating and/or traveling to his next class).
August 21, 2018 at 11:02 pm #91927
What school district is this? Sounds crazy. Kids should be able to bring what they want. Anyway, other than hiring a lawyer,what about a doctors note stating your son requires this protein shake? Otherwise could you add protein powder to his milk or whatever liquid they allow at this Nazi school of his.
August 22, 2018 at 10:26 am #91946
The policy basically states that in order for the Students to participate fully in the strong academic program, they need a well balanced meal. If parents choose to send a home lunch, any item out of compliance with their policy will be confiscated and the student will earn demerits. Soda of any kind, full sugar juices, chips, candy of any kind, and cookies and cakes are specifically excluded.
The shake comes into question because it falls into the “drink” category. My son has said they want the drinks to be in a clear container and the liquid to be see through if brought from home. So basically, water. I send the shake in an insulated thermal blender bottle. We do buy the powder form protein, and I mix it at home. This is 1) to prevent any messes at school; 2) if you’ve ever dealt with protein powder, you know it’s difficult to mix properly (little bit of a sensory issue, it needs to be smooth) and 3) my son is very conscious about how much artificial sugar he consumes, this powder form had less sugar per serving than the ready-to-serve bottles did like Boost or Ensure. Today, the shake was whole milk, mixed with protein powder and ice. Lunch was a turkey, mayo and cheese sandwich – baby carrots – leather fruit strip – and a Clif kids bar. The school hasn’t sent home a lunch menu, which is one of the reasons why I don’t purchase their lunch. My son is already throwing what I know he likes away 3/4th the time, why would I chance the other 1/4th by purchasing the unknown school lunch.
My son also reports that kids think he is drinking chocolate milk and it’s not “fair”. And I think therein lays the problem the school really has. My son tells them it’s a protein drink to help with his weight. But I’m sure it’s difficult for them to enforce such a strict policy when one kid is drinking what kids think is “chocolate” milk.
If he doesn’t get the shake at school, nothing happens immediately. But due to the extended school day, he’s lost a meal’s worth of calories — and after awhile that adds up. Before the shakes, he had fallen off the growth chart. With the shakes, he got back on the growth chart. When he’s at school from 7:30 – 5:00 (including bus time) Monday-Friday, I simply can’t supplement enough extra calories at home.
August 23, 2018 at 6:59 pm #92145
I could have written this, and probably have before lol. My son is very small for his age (10 1/2 yrs and less than 40 lbs), and we have had trouble on and off for several years with getting “permission” for him to drink a pediasure at school in addition to his lunch. Between his ADHD and ASD, the cafeteria is way overwhelming for him, and he often comes home with little to none of his lunch having been eaten.
Then they wonder why his focus is so off for the rest of the day. His ADHD meds really put a damper on his appetite, and he really doesn’t get hungry until about an hour after school and into the evening. He burns off everything he does eat, so even if he eats several snacks and two dinners in the evening, there isn’t anything sticking to help him gain weight. At one time I was told that it could be added to his IEP, and then was told no- it would have to be handled through the school nurse, and we would need something from his pediatrician. I now have a letter from his pediatrician for the school year (you need to do it every year) that has his pediasure written as a prescription. I’m sure we could go further, with other high calorie, high fat foods, but our school doesn’t have the food gestapo, we don’t have to worry about that.. yet. I would definitely have the pediatrician write something up and give it to the school nurse to keep on file, make a copy for the office, and also a copy for his teacher.
August 24, 2018 at 9:37 am #92168
Exactly HeartsandSoul. I’m on a migraine preventative medication myself that suppresses my appetite and I can attest, it kind-of sucks to have to force yourself to eat. We were so excited when he actually outgrew some clothes his year! I always get a little worried before going to the doctor because there’s a piece of me that worries that the doctor might think I’m not feeding him properly.
The milk/protein powder/ice shake is out. My son came home and reported that the shake just felt weird. I was hoping to get those extra calories/fat in with the milk. Oh well, we’re back to water/protein powder mix.
He does report that the school hasn’t said a word to him about his shakes. He said all of a sudden they don’t seem to care. YAY!! He’s not aware of the behind the scenes work I do – school has the note from the doctor. So end result – SUCCESS!!!!
August 27, 2018 at 2:30 pm #92342
If you put it in a thermos how are they to know what it is? Seriously, I don’t believe they can mandate what food you send your child to school with, other than the “nut free” policy. It is a breach of their Duty Of Care and his civil rights.
March 18, 2019 at 9:13 am #111739
This is where I struggle as a Libertarian parent of underweight children with otherwise healthy diets who need to increase caloric intake who is also an educator who sees too many children show up to lunch with nothing but a Costco-sized bag of chips…
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