Posts tagged ‘school’
Last August, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) hosted a back-to-school webinar with Gabriela Pacheco, RD, LD, SNS, a school nutrition consultant with expertise in specialty diet accommodations. In honor of National School Lunch Week, we decided to circle back with Gabriela and get some more tips on how parents and schools can work together to provide gluten-free school lunches to celiac and gluten sensitive students.
Gabriela Pacheco (GP): All of those challenges happen and are different in every district.
Staff training is certainly the biggest challenge. With or without a diet prescription, the foodservice staff must understand proper label reading and handling of all foods. This is especially challenging when a reaction to cross-contamination can have serious effects on the student.
Cost can be a challenge in some districts because the school cannot pass on the extra expense to the student. In other words, if a student gets free, reduced, or pays full price for school meals, the school cannot charge them for the extra expense to make the special meal.
The demand “should” not be an issue. One child or 100 students should be treated the same. However, some districts may push back if there is only one student or a few students needing the special meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that if a student has a food intolerance or allergy, the school can – but does not have to – modify meals, unless it is a life-threatening reaction such as anaphylaxis. It all lies on the diet prescription from a certified medical authority; if the diet prescription states that meals must be modified, then the district has no choice.
With or without a diet prescription, if the school nutrition staff works with parents of students with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, they demonstrate support of a segment of the community by helping them improve their quality of life and concentrate on school – not stress about food.
NFCA: What are some schools meals that meet the new USDA nutrition guidelines and are gluten-free?
GP: USDA – The National School Breakfast and Lunch Program ensures that your child eats a healthy meal, including meals for children with special dietary needs. Although a gluten-free diet limits some food options, schools can put together kid-friendly school meals. Having a diet different from that of his/her friends may cause your child to feel singled out. Get him/her and yourself involved with cafeteria staff to go over food preferences to make him/her feel more comfortable about school meals.
School meals must meet new meal pattern requirements, which include fruits and vegetables at every meal, as well as a meat/meat alternate (protein source), legumes, fluid milk and whole grains. Gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, beef, nuts, eggs and more. Schools already have these onsite; however, preparation is the key. Purchasing gluten-free bread, for example, can be the only substitution the student requires to have a lunch which looks the same as his friends. Along with a side salad, a fruit and milk, the meal is complete!
Most schools now have salad bars that contain a wide variety of items such as kidney beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, cottage cheese, and some even have the protein available there to make a complete meal. Add milk and again, a complete meal. The student just has to make sure to watch the salad dressings or anything else which may have been cross-contaminated. If the student is old enough, they learn what to choose. If still young, a teacher or cafeteria staff can help with the salad selection.
There are several manufacturers who make gluten-free items specifically for schools. One good resource is Rich Products. They make pizza dough and other items that will fit into the school meals and meet guidelines.
NFCA: How can schools be more welcoming to special dietary needs? Should they post the information on their website? Ask the foodservice director to speak at parents’ night?
GP: Both of those options are a great start. The first step is to consider the needs of the student. Second, it really takes a lot of teamwork. The school nutrition department, the parents and the student should all be involved. Forming partnerships is key. Many districts already post carbohydrate counts/exchanges, PKU diets, etc. – why not add gluten-free options?
Keep in mind that they are not required to post gluten-free options, which is why communication is important. Asking for the menus so parents can go over it with their child and circle meals they like also helps. The cafeteria staff can then work with the student on proper gluten-free exchanges. This way, the meal is not so “special” and different from other students.
NFCA: What advice do you have for parents who are reluctant to contact the school about their child’s gluten-free needs? How can they approach the conversation with confidence?
GP: The first place to go is the foodservice/nutrition director. The cafeteria staff can refer you to him/her. Parents can discuss options with the director.
If the student has a diet prescription from a medical authority, then it is especially important that the director ensures the cafeteria staff, your child’s first line of defense, is trained and understands gluten-free diet and modifications. Even without a written medical statement, the school may provide the child with special meals, but is not required to.
Form a partnership with the cafeteria staff and offer to help choose your child’s meals. Remember that they have to order foods from approved manufacturers, so it may be that they have to order from outside vendors to provide gluten-free options. They cannot charge the student more for that meal, so they do have to consider the increased cost. A parent should never hesitate approaching the nutrition department about their child’s needs, but keep in mind that there are regulations.
NFCA: What’s one thing parents can do during National School Lunch Week to advocate for gluten-free needs in the lunchroom?
GP: Parents can form a partnership with the food and nutrition department to send out a newsletter or a side note on the month’s menu regarding children with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and how the department can help with modifications. School administrators can also benefit from this, as they don’t always understand regulations.
For more articles on this topic, visit NFCA’s Gluten-Free Resources for National School Lunch Week 2012
[Kids spend hours a day at school – including meal times. College students live and eat on campus. How do you ensure their dietary needs are met? Wendy Gregory Kaho of Celiacs in the House shared her tips for navigating the school years with your gluten-free child.]
Whether it is preschool or college, planning ahead is the key to gluten-free school success. Here are my best tips for making you child safe and understood at school. Including your child at every step along the way will build confidence and teach important life skills.
1. Know your rights and advocate for your child.
Find a support group with experienced parents who can offer their insight and advice, and use online resources to educate yourself about your rights. Armed with the facts and good support it will be easier to take a calm, yet firm approach with school staff.
A 504 Plan Guide is on the Resources/Printable Guides page at the NFCA site.
2. Educate the staff.
This includes the school nurse, teacher, cafeteria staff, counselor, and principal. Explain what to expect from your child and how to best meet the child’s needs while sharing the facts about celiac disease and its only treatment, which is a gluten-free diet. Inform the staff of possible reactions to gluten that your child might experience and how they can help your child after accidental gluten exposure.
Look at the sample Teacher Letter on the NFCA site.
3. Plan and prepare for parties, field trips and events that involve food.
Whether you keep a supply of gluten-free treats for your child at school in a freezer or special drawer or plan on events as they occur, staying informed and prepared will help your child feel included. Make the process fun and an opportunity to teach nutrition and the cooking skills that will serve your child for a lifetime.
Take a look at the fun gluten-free kid food ideas on Pinterest.
4. Empower your child.
Include them in the process of choosing foods and planning and packing lunches. Role-play and practice how to explain their dietary needs.
Gluten-free school lunch ideas from Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom will get you started.
5. Stay positive.
Help your child see the opportunities to advocate for themselves and others with special diets or other needs.
Find more resources at NFCA’s website, including resources for all school levels and webinars in the archives with more school tips.
– Wendy Gregory Kaho
You’ve learned the basics of gluten-free, and now you’re ready to learn more information. Well, you can read until you’re blue in the face, but there’s another, more engaging way to get those facts and tidbits you’re looking for: Webinars.
In case you didn’t know, NFCA hosts a monthly webinar series, with topics ranging from everyday food choices to gluten-free holiday prep. The webinars are free, and we always post the recording and slides in our archive, so you can go back and listen again and again. Here are 5 webinars you can find in our archive right now.
1. Food as Medicine for Celiac Disease: Nutrition Beyond the Gluten-Free Diet
In this webinar, NFCA Scientific/Medical Advisory Board Member Rachel Begun, MS, RD, offers practical advice on how to incorporate foods into our diet that heal the body and can even prevent disease. Pay close attention to her tips on combining different foods, like leafy greens and citrus, to improve absorption of nutrients.
2. Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten-Free: The Importance of Mindful Eating and Physical Activity
How often do you eat because you’re stressed? Or tired? Or bored? Dietitian and local celiac support group founder Amy Jones, MS, RD, LD, reveals some of the habits that contribute to weight gain, especially when following a gluten-free lifestyle. (Did you really eat that many cookies before you went gluten-free?) We bet you’ll have an “A-ha!” moment listening to this.
3. Top 10 Ways to Get Gluten-Free Kids to Eat Healthy
This webinar is designed for dietitians who counsel families affected by gluten-related disorders, but there are plenty of tips anyone can use. EA Stewart, BS, MBA, RD, walks you through the best ways to set up a gluten-free kitchen, plan meals with your kids and foster good eating habits by putting healthy options within reach.
4. Nutrition and Training for the Gluten-Free Athlete
NFCA Athlete for Awareness Peter Bronski leads this webinar about the best ways to fuel your body with a well-balanced gluten-free diet. Pete explains what to eat before, during and after an athletic activity, then answers actual training questions from the audience.
5. The Importance of School Nurse Education and How-To Strategies for Parents of Gluten-Free Kids
Summer vacation is just starting, but now is a great time to brush up on what you’ll need to review with school nurses, administrators and teachers in the fall. Nina Spitzer, President of CDF’s Greater Phoenix Chapter, outlines the 504 plan and who you’ll need on your child’s School Team. Bonus! Get a list of recipes for yummy gluten-free lunches.
Our next live webinar will take place on June 20, 2012 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The topic will be “Yes, You Can Eat! When Gluten Isn’t the Only Ingredient You Avoid.” The webinar will feature NFCA’s Answers from a Dietitian blogger Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN. Sponsored by Lucy’s.
Why we’re fans: Jenny enjoys the learning process. Instead of throwing her hands up at the thought of going gluten-free, she went to work in the kitchen. She’s not afraid to admit when something’s a flop, and over time, her recipes have become more advanced and adventurous. Now, Jenny’s taking it to the next level by attending culinary school, with the ultimate goal to become a registered dietitian and personal chef for people with allergies. While she’s at it, she’s teaching her whole class a thing or two about celiac disease and why gluten-free safety is so important.
Jenny’s Story: I was diagnosed almost 3 years ago with celiac disease after many years of being misdiagnosed. I started my blog to keep a journal for myself of my new kitchen adventures, including my failures and successes. You can read more of my story on my blog (http://creativecookinggf.wordpress.com/about/)
According to Jenny: The toughest part of going gluten-free is eating out with friends and being “that person”. You all know what I’m talking about – the one asking nine million questions, double checking everything and having to find a place that is suitable for me to eat. It makes going out in groups a bit difficult, but thankfully those who know me are very understandable and accommodating, it is those that I just meet that it is hard for. I tend to feel bad about it and often don’t go out with people.
A taste of Creative Cooking: Gluten Free:
- My take of P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan: My biggest weakness is Chinese food, and I miss that more than anything else with being gluten-free. When living in Monterey, CA, I got spoiled by this great little family-run Chinese restaurant that would make me pretty much anything I wanted if I supplied them with gluten-free soy sauce. Needless to say, I ate there several times a week (I told you, it’s my weakness). P.F. Chang’s is also one of my favorite places to eat because they have such a great selection on their gluten-free menu. Sadly though, there isn’t one very close to us in Rhode Island, so I have decided to try and re-create as many of their recipes as possible. That way, I can control what ingredients I use, save money, and get my fix.
- Butternut Squash Soup: I don’t have a food processor or blender, so making this is a bit difficult. I was craving this soup so badly one day I finally went over to my neighbor and asked to borrow her food processor. Thankfully, she had one! It is just one of those soups that screams comfort food on a nice cool day. Perfect in the fall, winter or spring. We tend to like things a bit spicy in our house, so adjust the spice level accordingly. Great topped with gluten-free croutons, crispy bacon or toasted pine nuts.
- Cooking with my Grandma Lu (Meatballs and Sauce): I love and admire my grandmother very much. She is the reason I love to cook. She taught me from a very early age with a chair pulled up to the stove next to her. The love of cooking that she instilled in me at such an early age is one of my main reasons for attending my dream culinary school with the determination to do it as gluten-free as possible.
For more of NFCA’s Celiac Awareness Month celebration, visit www.CeliacCentral.org/awarenessmonth.
It may be December. It may be years since I carried a knapsack. But last week, I went back to school. And it was fun!
On Dec. 8, members of the Methacton School District in suburban Philadelphia held a Celiac Disease Workshop for parents of grade school children. The goal was to raise awareness of celiac disease and to answer questions parents have about the gluten-free diet. Naturally, I offered to help out and share some materials from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA).
Two very energetic and enthusiastic women with a passion for telling the world about celiac disease organized this evening event. Marykay Lojewski and Caren Meyer both have children at Worcester Elementary School.
Marykay has celiac disease and kicked off the evening by telling her very poignant story as she lived for years getting sicker and sicker as she sought a cure for everything from constant nausea to violent stomach pains to anemia. (Sound familiar?) Marykay even shared her Personal Story on NFCA’s website.
Caren is a holistic health coach with extensive knowledge of the gluten-free diet. Caren answered all sorts of questions relating to healthy living and going gluten-free.
Marykay, Caren and I covered the basics of celiac disease, the most common symptoms, what people on a gluten-free diet can eat and what is taboo, and let everyone know about NFCA’s activities and programs so they can find more information and support. Between the three of us, there were tons of handouts that workshop attendees took home.
Most interesting was the response from the folks participating in the workshop. Several of them have been wondering about their own symptoms, from migraines to neuropathy to “brain fog.” This workshop gave them a chance to share their concerns and to get tips on how to move forward.
The workshop wasn’t all talk and no play. Marykay and Caren made sure everyone attending learned that gluten-free food can be delicious and healthy. Thanks to Jacquelyne Rennie, owner of JayBee’s Café of Skippack, PA , we enjoyed fabulous gluten-free treats.
An added treat came from Marykay’s chef sister-in-law: Quinoa Salad! Fortunately, I was able to get the recipe, and I’m sharing it with you fine folks. (See below.)
Marykay and Caren plan to hold another workshop in 2011. In the meantime, we all can make that New Year’s resolution to eat in a more healthy and nutritious way, including those who are gluten-free!
from Chef Helen Lojewski
Gulph Mills Golf Club
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
1 small cucumber sliced and cut in quarters
1 -1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
½ small red onion chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Apple Cider Vinegar to taste (about 2 T)
Cook quinoa (see below).
When quinoa has cooled, gently mix in remaining ingredients.
Serve at room temperature.
How to cook basic quinoa:
Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
(Note: Some quinoa requires soaking before cooking. See individual recipes.)