Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Food Allergies and 504 Planning


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A 504 plan lays out the management of accommodations or modifications for a child in elementary or a secondary school so that they can participate safely and equally along side their peers. This is available under the federal civil rights law that protects a person with a disability. NICHCY states that in order, “to be protected under Section 504, a student must be determined to:


  • have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or
  • have a record of such an impairment; or
  • be regarded as having such an impairment.”

To get started on creating a 504 plan for your child, contacting the school’s 504 coordinator. This person will help put together a 504 team. Team members may include teachers, school nurse, food service personnel, and anyone who will be watching over your child throughout the school day.

There are several things that you can do to prepare for the 504 meeting ahead of time to try to ensure the meeting goes smoothly:

  • Have medical documentation or recommendations from a doctor on hand.
  • List reaction type, stress that it is an allergy and not an intolerance
  • Accommodations: think through your child’s day to figure out what needs he or she has, and how to accommodate those needs. Examples: Does the computer lab need to have the key boards wiped down before your child uses it to lower risk of exposure? Where will the epipens be located in classrooms? Do students have to wash their hand after eating lunch?
  • Find out the protocol for the school’s transportation. This will be important if your child rides the school bus or when they take field trips.

When the meeting starts remember to be reasonable, smart, ready to negotiate, and, potentially, be able to prove why your child needs the 504 plan. We have to keep in mind that many people still do not fully understand the complexity of food allergies. Knowing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws can help greatly if you find yourself facing a 504 team that isn’t as understanding. The ADA defines a disability if there is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Mitigating measures and the use of epi pens can not be a factor when deciding if a disability is present or not.

Additional resources:

FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is a fantastic resource for newly diagnosed families. They have resources for parents, teens and schools.

Kids with Food Allergies: Keeping children with food allergies safe and healthy by educating their families.

WrightslawParents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. 


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