A Local Education Agency (LEA) Child Nutrition program caters meals to a Head Start program.
Several students in the Head Start program have disabilities that require dietary modifications. Is the LEA Child Nutrition program responsible for assuring there is a Medical Statement and a 504 Plan or IEP in place and then for providing dietary modifications or should this responsibility reside with the Head Start program?
The Local Education Agency (LEA) Child Nutrition program is not responsible for assuring there is a Medical Statement and a 504 Plan or IEP in place or providing dietary modifications. The Head Start program only purchases their meals from the Child Nutrition program and their students are considered enrolled in the Head Start program, not at the school. The Child Nutrition program provides meals or snacks only to enrolled K-12 students receiving instruction at the school campus. The LEA does not claim reimbursable meals at this site because these students are not enrolled in the school. A Child Nutrition program may cater meals to other schools that are not part of the school meals program, or to other entities, provided the revenue from catering accrues to the LEA’s food service account. The catering of meals is simply a business transaction between the LEA Child Nutrition program and the Head Start program.A parent of a pre-K child suspected of having a disability may submit a written referral for an evaluation to the LEA in which he or she resides. Once determined eligible under IDEA, the LEA would be responsible for the provision of specially designed instruction and any necessary dietary modifications.
Preparation of all food and drink provided by Child Nutrition is to be done by trained staff in permitted food handling areas. If classroom staff have been trained and deemed competent over time (implies documented monitoring plan), not only in concocting the thickened drink but in food safety, proper hygiene, etc., then it would be an acceptable practice for beverages sent from home.
Child Nutrition should be doing the food and beverage preparation for student, unless the meal/drink is sent from home.
There are a whole separate set of food regulations for licensed preschool sites. However, preschool classrooms that are part of the elementary school campus and food service follow the same rules that the K-5 classrooms do.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 covers individuals from birth to death and applies to any
agency or entity that receives public funds. The “Child Find” obligation under Section 504 only applies to
school‐aged children, i.e. 5 years old and older. Upon a request for a modified diet, the Head Start
program is responsible (as a recipient of federal funds), for securing the Medical Statement and any
other pertinent data, determining eligibility, developing a 504 Plan and providing the necessary, appropriate and reasonable dietary modifications to the child. The eligibility criteria are that the child
has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major activity, such as eating.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), U.S. Department of Education
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, U.S. Department of Education
Accommodating Children with Special Dietary Needs in School Nutrition Programs: Guidance for School Food
Service Staff. Alexandria, Va: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Nutrition Service; 2001.
Child Find, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education
Medical Statement for Students with Special Nutritional Needs for School Meals, Child Nutrition Services, N.C.
Department of Public Instruction
Are Pre‐K students exempt from disability benefits?
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C benefits cover children from birth through 2 years of age. IDEA, Part B extends coverage from 3 years through 21 years of age. Students must be enrolled. There is no exemption if a child is enrolled in the school system. (Enrolled students will usually have NCWISE numbers.) If the child is not enrolled in the school system Average Daily Membership (ADM), check with the administrator of the program in which the child is enrolled to determine more about the enrollment status.
What food preparation areas are required to obtain a valid Environmental Health permit?
Most establishments or operations where food is prepared or served at wholesale or retail for pay must have a valid food handling permit. North Carolina General Statute § 130A‐247 and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) 15A NCAC 18A .2600 Rules provide detailed information. The .2600 Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food Service Establishments define foods as "any raw, cooked, or processed edible substance including meat, meat food products, poultry, poultry products, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption.”
A Pre‐K school setting that is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Division of Child Development and inspected by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) would follow the 15A NCAC 18A .2800 Rules Governing
Sanitation of Child Day Care Facilities. Contact the local Environmental Health specialist if clarification is needed.
school other than the cafeteria?
Preparation of foods sold to students must take place in a food service area that has a valid Environmental Health permit. The cafeteria kitchen is usually the only area of a school with this type of food handling permit. Therefore, all meal preparation should take place in the cafeteria kitchen with approved equipment and ingredients following a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety plan. North Carolina General Statute §130A‐247 and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) 15A NCAC 18A .2600 Rules Governing the Sanitation of Food Service Establishments provide detailed information. The .2600 Rules define foods as "any raw, cooked, or processed edible substance including meat, meat food products, poultry, poultry products, ice, beverage, or ingredient used or intended for use or for sale in whole or in part for human consumption.”
The Division of Environmental Health in the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has drafted revisions to the 15A NCAC 18A .2400 Rules Governing Sanitation of Public, Privateand Religious Schools. The draft revisions are currently undergoing a fiscal impact assessment. If adopted, the revisions will regulate food preparation practices in the classroom setting. The response to this question will be updated as new information is received.
If foods are prepared in a Pre‐K school setting that is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development and inspected by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), the 15A NCAC 18A .2800 Rules GoverningnSanitation of Child Day Care Facilities should be followed. Contact the local Environmental Health specialist if clarification is needed.
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