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advice please about dd1's school and meals

(20 Posts)
silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 08:29:53

dd1 attends a (independent) ASD pre-school.

she is gf/cf.

the school says it can cater for this (while not-so-quietly dismissing the idea that it is a valid diet)

the meals that the school provide for gf/cf children are, by thier own admission not acceptable (in a 3-week period I noted that dd1 had ham for lunch every day except for 2 days. Probably not Nice Ham, either wink). I also doubted whether the meals were truly gf/cf - both cross-contamination and also sourcing things like stock/gravy etc. More than once dd1 was fed an unsuitable item.

when dd1 started there, children were able to take their own packed lunch, but this is no longer allowed.

I stopped dd1 having lunches due to unsuitability (see above), which has not been a problem as she only goes half days at the moment. from September she is going full days, and we had ameeting to see what could be done about lunches.

our options are:

she has the school lunch - definitely not happening.

she comes home for lunch - not very practical, as by the time I got her home, cooked and fed her, she would eb late for the afternoon session.

we provide suitable meat (eg cooked chicken, to be stored at the school) and she has the rest of the meal (vegs. potatoes and pudding) form the school kitchen so that it looks like the other children's meals.

I would like to send her with a full meal from home. It wouldn't be a "packed lunch" as such, as dd1 won't eat sandwiches, but would be a flask with eg spag bol/curry in it. Ieven offered to make something that was suitable for dd1 but bore a close resemblance to the meal of the day, if I could be given a menu plan. But this is not allowed.

I don't like the school's options (the third one is the only viable one in any case) as it still means that dd1 will end up having the same meal every day, which is not a situation we want to get into with an ASD child who currently has quite a varied diet.

the school's position is that if dd1 had a different lunch, the other children would notice and want it (must stress here that dd1 would not be having choc/crisps etc, but flask meal - not likely to be desirable to food fussy children due to amount of veg in it - and fruit).

I really don't know what to do about this.

School are immovable (is this even legal for them to take this stance? surely since they cannot provide a suitable alternative by their own admission, they should allow me to provide a decent meal for dd1?)

5inthebed Fri 10-Jul-09 08:57:22

How bizarre! Do they not have a packed lunch area? They should provide an area for packed lunches. Surely they don't expect everyone to have the same meal every day?

HSMM Fri 10-Jul-09 09:17:52

Speak to your local authority. This is rediculous. There must be at least one child there who is a vegetarian, so what happens when they have something different?

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 09:44:37

yes, that is it exactly.

everyone has to have the same meal every day.

they say thay had lots of problems with children not eating lunch when there were other children having soemhting different (this is an ASD school, so lots of food issues)

they also say that now that everyone has the same meal, the children are eating more. some may be, but they provide a chart to let parents know what the meal was/how much eaten etc, and there are soem children not eating)

It is a very small school, so don't know if there are vegetarians, but the fact is that there are 2 different meals being served anyway - the "normal" meal and the gf/cf one... this has confused more than one parent (actually of "normal" eaters, who assumed that everyone was getting the same until I pointed out that dd1 can't have pasta etc, as it woud make her ill)

can I still speak to local authority if the school is independent?

really don't know what to do about this.

it was bad enough when dd1 was going for the afternoon, and not having a proper lunch, but to send her all day. knowing she isn't going to eat much for lunch is somethign I just cannot do. I cannot knowingly let my daughter go without a meal in the middle of the day (which is what will happen. dd1 is a good eater, and not a small girl. she would eat more than a few bits of ham for lunch if she were at home, and I do not like the thought of her going hungry)

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Fri 10-Jul-09 09:53:04

If there's a statement, you can get it included- nboth ds1 have dietary needs listed in theirs, for example CF, allowed flavoured drinks, etc.

At that pointb you have recourse with the LEA.

have you ahd a meeting with the Head of school meaqls? At The School as I now refer to it (wheen feeling polites) I was told nothing could be done about school emals, the day ds3 went to the SNU (he eats with main primary so its not the SNU sattus) I ahd a call from the County head of school meals to tell me that the last school had been tlaking rot (and coincidentally that school cook had left under a cloud some weeks before...) and I was invited to am meet with the Head of School Meals and a Dietician within 3 days where we went through every emal on the menu, it's CF although ds1 has his eating monitored as well to stop him binning it etc, and they've offered to go to GF for ds1 when and if his eating disorders pass (scared to rock boat)

I provide DF 'butter', some alprodesserts for spares, a carton of soya milk each for snack time,, they soured DF gravies, make up special things for the freezer for reservesa nd adapt the menu.

Couldn't ask for mroe, really.

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Fri 10-Jul-09 09:54:09

Just saw independent.

Hmmmm. I would make a call to Ipsea on this one, TBH. You may find that is the crux.

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 09:59:16

not listed on statement - STILL in the process of getting one (18 months and counting!)

no meeting with school meals - the ASD pre-school get their meals from a (state) primary on whose land the pre-school is, so no links to meals bods at all...

meals get sent over each day, no warning of what it might be.

that's why I think the gf/cf meals are so poor - doesn't maytter to the school meals dept, as they are not for thir school iyswim.

they do allow dd1 to have her own drink (watered down juice) as she wil not drink out of an open cup, and has had huge issues with drinking in the past. thankfully have never had a problem with them accepting this.

cyberseraphim Fri 10-Jul-09 10:00:56

It's hard to say if there is any 'law' in this area but you should expect reasonable co operation. Parents would be allowed to supply own meal for religious reasons, even with the vegetarian issue, sometimes this is for religious reasons and sometimes not. The notion that ASD children would notice meal differences in the way they suggest sounds implausible (even if we don't want stereotyped ideas about ASD). If the meal conforms to health and safety (a very wide area nowadays admittedly) and is nutritious, I can't see any real basis for refusing to co operate with home provision of meals.

PeachyTheRiverParrettHarlot Fri 10-Jul-09 10:04:38

Start by e-maling LEA school meals bod- other schools will have access to Veggie, Halal etc so they will be ble to tell you if it is a caters thing or the indie school specifying this

Have you thought about the DDA? Uktimately if a rather weird at best policy (there's always veggie, meat and one will be Halal plusa cold option at ourschopol0 is affecting your DD's ability to have a decent leal/ to my eternal shame I ahve thrown the DDA around at school (it was hgow we got ds3's drinks needs sorted)

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 10:07:54

"The notion that ASD children would notice meal differences in the way they suggest sounds implausible"
well, quite.

I know that dd1 has never bothered about what anyone around her is eating (inc at m/s pre-school and toddler groups etc)

as long as she has her food (and treat if applicable), she is happy.

I think this came form the fact that lots of parents were sending in choc.treats, and that was what other children were noticing. I think there were also people sending in packed lunches in case their child didn't eat the school lunch, and then of course what happened was that the child didn't eat the school lunch because they knew their favourite was waiting for them afterwards.

but to just blanket ban home lunches because of this (both situations easily solved - choose either home or schoool lunch, and give guidlines on contents) seems a bit OTT

sphil Fri 10-Jul-09 10:09:25

I can't believe they are being so inflexible. Present them with the latest evidence about the link between processed meat and bowel cancer - no-one should really be eating ham that many times in a week if it can be avoided. I do sympathise about the lack of sympathy/understanding about gf/cf - I think I posted before that one of the teachers at the special school DS2 used to attend told another parent she 'felt sorry' for DS2 with his gf/cf packed lunch as he was (apparently) eyeing other kids food jealously (which I very much doubt btw). I think many people feel we're just being faddy.

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 10:12:12

I wondered about the DDA, Peachy.

it does seem bizarre to me that I might have to bandy it around at a school catering purely for diasbaled children, but there you go.

the school meals are suppplied by Brakes Food (see the van often) which is why I am sure (without any furhter info being provided o me) that gravies etc are not gf.

the school are trying to work on expanding food options for a lot of children with big food issues (dd1 has issues, but they are easily worked around, imo so see no need to rock the boat with her), but it does seem like madness to me that the way they are going about this is to essentially force (am NOT saying they force feed) the childrne to confront foods they would not normally touch.

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 10:16:04

the head of ASD school agrees the gf/cf meals are not suitable.

but she will not let me easily provide an alternative (only by providing meat for dd1 to have, and then the veg/potatoes formt he school meal - this still means dd1 would be having same meal ever day, althoguh at least then it could be hand-reared, pampered organic chicken wink)

the school used ot think dd1 has food issues, but then on an inset day for the state school, we had to send in lunch. I sent her with a lamb curry, which had chick peas and lentils in. she scoffed the lot, and they were amazed.

I don't get why they would make an issue over this.

vjg13 Fri 10-Jul-09 11:27:26

Would a letter from your GP or a dietician help?

sphil Fri 10-Jul-09 11:44:14

It sounds like her diet is fantastic! I am envy You def don't want to mess with it.

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 11:51:48

sadly, i don't think a letter would help.

they have taken their position, and we have to toe the line.

sphil - it does sound good, but she will only eat about 6 different meals, so she has issues in her own way.

My view is that if the 6 meals she will eat are good healthy balanced ones, i don't see why we should concentrate so hard on getting her to eat (eg) potatoes (which she willonly eat on shepherds pie). It's not necessary imo. And certainly not if it menas she has to go hungry all day at school.

sphil Fri 10-Jul-09 22:18:10

What I am trying with DS2 is to 'deconstruct' his meals gradually. So because he eats hummus, I am putting one or two whole chickpeas on his plate. He eats fish cakes made with mashed potato and cauliflower, so I'm putting a tiny bit of cauliflower on the side etc etc. It hasn't worked yet, but I'm hopeful!

Sorry - that post is completely off the point of your OP!

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 22:50:36

that's the sort of thing that makes sense, though

It's exactly what I do with dd1. eg she will eat loads of veg in stuff, but not on its own, so put a bit of carrot or a few peas down next to her food. or 2 chips when dd2 is scoffing them.

dd2 will eat anything as long as it comes off my (or dh's) plate, and so sometimes we put a tiny bit of whatever it is on dd1's plate too, and talk about how it's nice we can all taste the same thing, etc.

we have got to the point where dd1 will eat plain chicken breast, instead of in a sauce, and she also ate soem pork chop (told her it was chicken blush)

potatoes are a complete non-starter though (and would make life so much easier!)

sphil Fri 10-Jul-09 23:02:59

Ah now this is where our children diverge - DS2 will eat potatoes in any shape or form but no meat that isn't minced. It doesn't sound as if DD1 has food texture issues, which I think play a big part in Ds2's dislikes. Mind you, I picked a blueberry off our bush and casually handed it to him yesterday - and he ate it! Maybe it's less threatening away from the table - might put some peas in my pocket next time grin

silverfrog Fri 10-Jul-09 23:11:51

good stuff with the blueberry! dd1 lives for them (costs me a fortune, but they are very good for you). until recently they were the only freshfruit she would eat.

smell is dd1's issue, I think. she does eat a good range of textures, and I know the everything-in-sauce fixation comes from me having to give her everything as "wet" food when she gave up drinking (first tie she was 12 months old, lasted a month; second time she was 2.7 ish, and lasted 9 months shock) and is just habit now.

texture wise, she does have issues with stuff touching her lips. we are working on that by giving her spoonfuls of manuka honey! grin she loves it, and we present it as part of her vitamins, so she takes it (oh how I wish she was so compliant in all areas!) and it does seem to have a good effect on her bowels too.

casual sharing of food is definitely the way to go - dd1 used to love sharing our food, but we had to stop when she went gf/cf. she did want a bit of raw carrot off me the other day, though, and it went down ok. less of an issue away form the table, I think, more of an extension on general exploratory stuff.

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