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School Meals & Allergy/Intolerance Anyone else hit a problem with a New School Meals Provider??

(6 Posts)
rockinhippy Thu 29-Sep-11 14:26:47

Our area has a new School meals provider, who have set up a new system for DCs with any allergies or intolerances, which involves filling in a form & then getting a Doctor to sign it confirming the intolerance/allergy adding a covering letter & - if you don't get this your DCs won't be given School meals  - DD is intolerant to food chemicals - sweeteners, colours & Benzoate preservatives & lactose - that means for School meals purposes - dairy is okay so long as its cooked

 - & as School meals previously stood, the rest wasn't an issue.

Up until recently a simple note to the School, give by the office by the cook worked fine, we've never had a problem before, but it all changed when the old Cook left.

Having given up on School meals completely in the more recent past due to DD TWICE being made ill & missing School as a direct result of being given the wrong foods - foods already in her notes & have never had a problem in the past - resulting in my putting a complaint in writing - as did other parents after similar incidents  

Lots of tooing & froing & unnecessary stress over short deadline, lots of reasons why it was important it was sorted out - but after going to the top, we DID manage an extension - then followed by cook not understanding DDs intolerance & refusing to feed DD anyway, despite us having already checked menu & know its okay - resulting in my TWICE being called to the School with a packed lunch mid morning  - 



Anyway, I could bore you & go into more detail, but basically now they have DDs Medically signed forms & yet another letter saying what she CAN & CAN"T safely eat - which bar the lactose has never previously been an issue as all the food was additive free anyway

I have just today received a colour coded updated menu for DD detailing what the cook needs to substitute, & what she mustn't give DD

IMHO unless the School Meals provider is sticking chemical additives in a LOT more foods than I was told over the phone & a LOT more than I suspect the HT knows about as its a "healthy eating school" & previously there were no additives in the food at all, - then my letters & forms have been completely ignored/misunderstood by the companies dietician, EG: DD amongst lots of other things won't be allowed Custard, yoghurt or any sauces….or boiled potato or peas  - all of which SHOULD be fine for her IF additive free as has always been the case in the past.

She enjoys sitting having a hot meal with her friends & TBH what with recent run of bad luck with illnesses, accidents & hospital, being able to put her in for School meals has been a Godsend.

I have asked for clarification of the menu restrictions for DD, as it should really only be cold milk & uncooked cheese UNLESS they have also changed the additive free policy - without telling anyone hmm - waiting on the reply - but TBH getting pretty fed up of all this letter writing & phone calls & instructions to speak to the cook - as its starting to feel like a full time job hmm -

I CAN understand & applaud them trying to get it right, but I just don't understand why it needs to be so complicated & potentially excluding kids from School meals - I mean what if they are on free meals & it/s their main source of food for the day & they have this sort of problems sad

Thoughts please smile -- & is anyone else having this problem??

rockinhippy Thu 29-Sep-11 14:29:28

blush - C&P from another forum on here as it was the wrong one into word, tweaked a bit & C&P here - no idea why that changed smilies & gawd knows what into hash & numbers confused - sorry

auntevil Thu 29-Sep-11 17:54:17

Talking to the wrong person here - i gave up really soon and although i would rather they have a hot meal - i prefer even more that they have a safe meal.
DS1 is fructose, sucrose and CMP intolerant (all dx). I spoke to the schools food service and they told me that they were unable to provide a meal as his diet was not healthy! DS2 is lactose intolerant and IBS (they all have that as a dx also)- they would quite often give him spicy curry, then dry crackers. 20 minutes later - well i'll leave it to the imagination! DS3 can't swallow properly, IBS and dairy intolerant, currently doing a gluten challenge. Most foods have to be pureed to 4 month baby food levels. Was there any point in asking? I think not.

freefrommum Thu 29-Sep-11 18:35:32

I had a similar issue yesterday with school dinners. Had arranged with dietician and school cook for my 2 (DD coeliac, DS allergic to milk, wheat, egg, nuts) to have school dinners on certain days including every Weds as this is always roast dinner. So sent them both off to school with dinner money only to get a phone call from cook mid-morning to say boiler broken so no hot dinners just sandwiches - no good for my two! DH was away so I had to leave work, drive home, make packed lunches, take up to school then drive back to work. Really don't think it's worth the hassle for us as can't risk that happening again. Babybarrister had a good suggestion about agreeing some basic emergency alternatives but I'm not sure I can be bothered.
Your system for special diets sounds really complicated and very restrictive. Our dietician told us that the catering company are obliged to offer

rockinhippy Thu 29-Sep-11 18:36:37

I think maybe we've just been lucky with School meals in the past then sad & its back to packed lunches all the time again sad

DD is DX with IBS too, so I understand too well the results for your DS & we've had exactly the same recently - hence my complaint letter - lactose will trigger that in DD too & they gave he a cheese roll which had her too ill to get to School & on another occasion a glass of milk hmm - the chemical food additives etc can affect her skin - I've still not heard back from the SMP, but its looking very likely that they ARE now using additives in the foods - & that explains why in her case its suddenly become so complicated

It does pee me right off that that us parents haven't been told of that change though, as I know additives can affect a lot of kids in different ways & many might not even realise that the School meals are the problem - if DD tells me she's had cheese at School I KNOW thats why she's running to the loo & doubled up - before this recent fiasco & now the new menu - if she told me she'd eaten custard or peas etc, it would never have occurred to me that the skin flare ups on her legs where down to thats, as we've previously been reassured that the food was additive free-

wondering if I should complain to the HT now, as I bet we are not the only ones caught out by that change hmm

I wouldn't mind they made such a big deal of these menus & her not having custard etc & to have fruit instead ---& they had NO fruit - crap IMHO

freefrommum Thu 29-Sep-11 18:38:32

oops! Posted too soon. Catering company are obliged to offer alternatives for children with dietary requirements, especially if they're entitled to free school meals (which we're not). However, I agree that it's a total nightmare trying to get it right and then worrying that they remember and then dealing with the fall out when things go wrong. Think we're gonna stick with packed lunches.

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