School cafeterias: When celiac disease occurs in our families, many eating habits need to be amended so that our children can eat a gluten free diet and thus enjoy a good quality of life. Parents know very well that the biggest drawbacks to children’s diets emerges during social life events, and one of these occurs at school. The problem is that many school cafeterias do not have special menus, such as gluten-free menu.
One recent case shows that three schools have rejected celiac children from their dining hall. Once again the lack of regulation is a problem for people with celiac disease.
According to the Aragonian Celiac Association every year there are about 20 complaints recorded from parents who complain of dietary deficiencies and problems accessing this service.
The situation in Zaragoza presents difficulties: it is estimated that there are, in the area, over 300 celiac children under the age of 16. So their gluten intolerance is a barrier to accessing cafeteria services in some schools. During this course, three schools have rejected Celiac students Zaragoza from their own kitchens. The lack of laws to protect this type of allergy is the main problem right now. The truth is, schools are not required by law to admit these children for this service, something which Aragonese celiacs expect to change with the help of the Justice of Aragon.
Regarding celiac students that do eat at school, Noelia Panillo, nutritionist for the Aragonesa Celiac Association, explains that each year the organization receives about 20 complaints from parents who complain of menu deficiencies due to unbalanced diets.
The situation in Cartagena: new laws
In Cartagena, there’s good news about it: a recent decree will force school cafeterias to have menus for children with allergies and celiac disease. The new regulations will promote the Mediterranean diet and individualized meals for children that are intolerant to some foods.
Studies show that seven out of every one hundred children are allergic to various foods such as grains, cow’s milk, fish or nuts. And most school cafeterias are not prepared to handle this situation: a few still have special menus for Celiac children, or those who are allergic or diabetic, according to the Spanish Association of Food and Latex Allergies. This situation has led many parents to bring complaints to the district of Cartagena and the entire region in schools, in the ministries of Education and Health and the Ombudsman to Murcia.
But the situation will change in a few weeks, because the Community is preparing a regional decree that requires schools to adapt school cafeterias menus for students with food intolerances. The regulations provide that the Dietary Department Concessionaire must identify students with allergies.
The measure is pending in the latest report of the Economic aEnd Social Council of the Region of Murcia, which will then be forwarded to the Governing Council for approval. According to a spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, will come out in a few days.
The decree has been processed at the initiative of the Ministry of Health and Consumption, but participates in drafting of Education. Both departments operate at the behest of a decision of the Ombudsman, who studied a complaint by the parents of a college student in the Virgin of Begoña allergic to cow’s milk and beef.
The resolution urges education to develop and adopt a regional decree for alternative menus offered in schools for students’ health problems which, intolerance to certain foods or other justified circumstances require a special diet.
The proposal of decree advised to address the food needs of Celiac students, students with allergies and those that suffer from other diseases for whom it is not possible to facilitate appropriate storage for prepared foods. Students then bring food from home, which must be packed in appropriate containers. The center should take responsibility for the heating and serving of such meals.
These recommendations are inserted in paragraph 3 of Article 5, entitled ‘Menu and balanced diet’ that form part of the decree establishing the health requirements for school meal service and measures for health protection and promotion of healthy habits at non-university schools.
Their goal, according to the draft decree states, is to further that schoolchildren are fed healthily and improve their dietary behavior. Therefore, among the other points of law, which shall consist of highlighting the Mediterranean diet and healthy food, while banning high-calorie foods and beverages, such as candy, industrial bakery, snacks and the similar products.
Even expected to vending machines, cafeterias, bars or similar premises located within the schools must include in their own food supply, the Mediterranean diet without added sugar, like juices, yogurts, fruit, sandwiches and other healthy products.
Article 2 stipulates that the rules should be applied to early childhood education centers, primary and secondary schools and intermediate vocational training, as well as language education, art and sports that students enrolled in school under 18 years of age.
This intervention by the Community is also preceded by the need to prevent obesity and overweight in school children throughout the region. The first revision of the draft decree that the Economic and Social Council of the Region of Murcia made, this body advises it compulsory in schools to design menus consisting of salad, traditional stew (single dish), bread and fruit. It was also proposed to be implemented in camps, farms, schools or playgrounds, whose users are school children.
Sources: The truth / Cunoticias