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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Meeting the Special Dietary Needs of Homeless Children

The number of homeless children is our schools is increasing. As a result, schools are calling us regarding the documentation needed for a food allergy, or other serious health issue when the family doesn't have health insurance and cannot provide the required documentation of the child's medical situation. While the school can choose to accommodate something like a vegetarian meal (student choice) without much concern, it is a much different situation when a child has a special dietary need or disability.

As the economic situation worsens, the number of homeless families will continue to grow. This proves to be an extremely tough situation for children and schools. However, in the end, the school needs to have documentation from a doctor for any disability or food allergy.

When dealing with a medical situation, the school should work with the student's family, the school nurse, and the homeless liaison or coordinator to find a medical doctor or recognized medical authority, as appropriate, to prove the required information. It is a precarious situation to serve someone without the knowledge provided by this documentation. The school could possibly accept last year's documentation or the documentation from another school in the case of a transferred student.

Please call the office at 518-473-8781 with any questions or concerns.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.