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To expect school dinners for my coeliac daughter?

(98 Posts)
jurisfictionoperative Sat 10-Apr-10 02:20:01

When my daughter was diagnosed as coeliac, I enquired as to wether there was a gluten free option for school dinners.
I was told that there wasn't as 'they couldn't cater for every preference'!
Excuse me for being picky, but surely vegetarianism is a 'preference', coeliac being a health threatening condition, along with nut and shellfish allergies? I think that this is discrimination, would a disabled person user be denied ramps because they prefer to use a wheelchair? And yes, I know that this is an extreme comparison, but the whole thing makes me cross! We go to a restaurant, and the poor kid has to have chips, or a jacket potato, every time, because nobody caters for coeliacs, yet when I worked as a waitress, we had many more requests for gluten free than vegetarian!

abouttoleave Sat 10-Apr-10 02:23:43

I think YABU but I am sure many others wont

abouttoleave Sat 10-Apr-10 02:24:57

I wouldnot expect the school to cater for my child's (similar) dietary needs. I provide a packed lunch

jabberwocky Sat 10-Apr-10 02:33:30

It's very difficult to have to be on such a strict diet and I do feel for you. But I think YABU to expect the school to have special lunches.

BitOfFun Sat 10-Apr-10 02:34:05

It would be nice, but no, not practical for the price of mass catering. It would require separate prep areas etc, and they'd have to do the same nut and dairy-free etc. It's a shame, but thems the breaks.

ChippingIn Sat 10-Apr-10 02:34:29


If you have a child with a dietary difference - then you have to accept that the school may not be able to cater for them, if they can, great - if they can't you provide a packed lunch.

I say this as a vegetarian, if the school doesn't provide veggie dinners - then they'll have a packed lunch. Not a big deal.

You could ask the school to check out how many of the 'packed lunch' children are 'packed lunchers' because they are GF - if there are enough of them, they may look at catering to that group.

But honestly - there are too many different diets for a school to provide for all of them vegetarian/vegan/GF/Halal/Allergies/No pork/No beef etc etc what a minefield.

Not to mention the worry of making sure they all get the meals they are meant to have!!

nooka Sat 10-Apr-10 02:46:40

I think it was incredibly insensitive to suggest that your dd's dietary requirements were a preference. But I am afraid that your por dd will have to get used to limited choice - I have a friend with coeliac and it is difficult, although in general caterers are getting much better at providing alternatives (at least when informed in advance).

I wonder if the school caterers don't really understand your dd's problems, or are perhaps wary of getting their provision wrong? In any case I'm afraid that home lunches are your best option.

Re your experiences, I wonder if that was because being a vegetarian is so mainstream now that most menus have several veggie options already on their menus, so those customers didn't have to ask? For those with severe intolerances/allergies on the other hand confirming that a dish is safe for them is essential.

sunnydelight Sat 10-Apr-10 04:17:48


gingernutlover Sat 10-Apr-10 08:00:02

I wouldnt trust anyone but myself to ensure the meal was safe for her to eat.

i suspect that nut allergy sufferers and lactose intolerant etc take packed lunches for the same reasons

YABU to expect them to have a sepearte prep area, sepearte menu etc etc for one child, expecially as school meals cost about £2 a day - its simply not do'able

ditavionteased Sat 10-Apr-10 08:04:33

YANBU, both my dd's have ceoliacs, they take pack up's tbh I would prefer this anyway feels safer. for people to suggest it is a food preference is just plkain ignornace, I am vegetarian that is my choice, dd's are gluten free, that is not optional.
Mind you my dd's are quite happy with the chips where ever we go thing, my mum just found out that where we go on holiday they have a gluten free cafe woo hoo not just 2 weeks of chips this year then.
Our school have said they would cater for dd1 but I would npot trust them 100% tbh and i bet they wouldn't actually makle anything she would want to eat. Unfortunatly life is going to be a bit harder for them, best they get used to it from early on.

sarah293 Sat 10-Apr-10 08:10:13

Message withdrawn

mumblechum Sat 10-Apr-10 08:14:53

That's a bit mental Riven

123andaway Sat 10-Apr-10 08:30:05

YABU and I don't really see how you can draw comparisons to someone in a wheelchair. Not being able to have a school dinner is mearly annoying to you and your daughter, and not something that restricts her ability to receive an education.
If the school banned packed lunches and said that everychild must have a school dinner then it would be completely different and it would be very reasonable to expect them to cater for her. However the problem is overcome by you simply providing a packed lunch for her. In that sense it is an 'eating preference' to which the school are unable to cater.

Riven that's crazy!!!

JustMyTwoPenceWorth Sat 10-Apr-10 08:33:00

YANBU. My children both have a gluten free meal provided for them at school. We had to get a letter from the doctor and fill in a form from the local authority.

Phone the LA and go through them.

Special dietary requirements ARE catered for. The school is wrong.

JustMyTwoPenceWorth Sat 10-Apr-10 08:33:54

oh but juris - watch out for the chips! Many are coated in flour.

lillybloom Sat 10-Apr-10 08:35:46

Riven thats awful. My DSM needs a glutten free diet and she was catered for whilst in hospital but they kept forgetting who the meal was for and giving it to other people. Thankfully we were allowed to take food in but we weren't allowed to heat it up. (Elf and safety)

strawberrykate Sat 10-Apr-10 09:53:29

Technically the school doesn't HAVE to provide a special gluen free diet legally, BUT I've never heard of a school refusing. Some schools do provide it (at least some of the time) in the form of a packed lunch though. The DFES are clear that it is expected for gluten free etc to be catered for (google dfes school dinners guidelines-annex A)

My advice is to contact the borough direct and find out from the school meals service/ private company is gluten-free is available. Normally it is.

Many schools treat life-threatening allergies as a disability and don't discriminate on these grounds. Your head sounds mis-informed/ pig-headed and there's better people to talk to than him. Standard practice in primary schools in photos of children with allegies stuck to the wall behind the hatch with a list of theor allergies to make them easy to indentify for all staff in the dining room.

NB: If your child however has free school meals they MUST provide a suitable meal.

sarah293 Sat 10-Apr-10 10:08:12

Message withdrawn

soapboxqueen Sat 10-Apr-10 10:08:19

I agree that the school should (whether legally obliged to or not) provide a suitable meal and you should take it up with LEA. However, some schools have limited catering facilities and may have felt they couldn't do it rather than they wouldn't. Some schools have no cooking facilities on site at all. Either way, speak to the LEA who should advise them appropriately.

pigletmania Sat 10-Apr-10 10:17:13

YANBU at all! If the child had a nut allergy there would be a nut free school meal option, why not a gluten free option. This is not a preference, but a diatry requirement and the school should be flexible. Dont they get the meals in from outside anyway, so why cant they get a gluten free meal. However if this was my dc i would provide a packed lunch, much cheaper and safer imo.

MissAnneElk Sat 10-Apr-10 10:23:16

Most primary schools get their meals sent in and if that's the case then I'd expect a gluten free option because they are catering on a large scale and should have seperate prep areas.

If it were me I'd probably opt for the safe option of a packed lunch.

DH has ceoliac and won't eat chips when he is out unless he knows they are GF, so not coated in flour, AND that they have been fried in a dedicated chip only fryer, most places just chuck all the battered things in the same fryer.

pigletmania Sat 10-Apr-10 10:23:41

Riven I am shock what do they expect your dd to do starve! Heard they are trying to do that in hospitals now, Liverpool Care Pathway. A man even rang hospital reception to request a glass of water shock. As for the op I do not know why on earth she is BU to some on here, her dc has a medical condition and would like a hot dinner at school, its not a fad.

morningpaper Sat 10-Apr-10 10:24:31

Practically, though, it would be a bit grim for your DD is they only ever had one option each day - what is she hated it? I think packed lunches are much easier all round.

barrym Sat 10-Apr-10 10:25:48


2rebecca Sat 10-Apr-10 10:29:28

YABU for the price they have to provide school meals at. If they cater for you they'd also have to do the assorted allergies as well and there is also the risk of some poor dinner lady giving a kid the wrong meal in the chaos that is school dinners.

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