Dear Cafeteria Staff,

A student in your school has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease (CD). While this will affect some aspects of school management, including food preparation, patience and understanding can bring about the necessary changes that will quickly become a natural part of the school experience for all involved.

What is celiac disease?
Also known as celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, CD is a genetic disorder that can affect both children and adults. In people with CD, eating certain types of grain-based proteins sets off an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine. This, in turn, interferes with the small intestine's ability to absorb the nutrients found in food, leading to malnutrition and a variety of other complications. For some, the disease manifests itself in small itchy blisters on the skin, called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). The proteins that cause these difficulties are collectively called gluten and are found in wheat, barley, rye and common oats* (WBRO), as well as all of their derivatives At this time, the only known treatment for the disease is a life-long avoidance of WBRO.

How will this affect your job?
Even the tiniest amount of WBRO is toxic to a person with CD, which can make food preparation, especially in a commercial-type kitchen, a challenge. It is not impossible, however, and by learning these simple ABC's you will be able to provide safe and enjoyable meals for the student with CD.

Always offer foods that are free of WBRO.
Be aware of hidden WBRO in processed foods.
Clean utensils and work surfaces are necessary.

A ABC poster with more information on these ABC's is available for your convenience. Contact the parent/guardian or Celiac Support Association if you have questions or concerns.  Mr. Sips line of gluten-free products are designed for food service. The Celiac Support Association staff, website and publications provide guidance in appropriate food choices. 

The information contained in this material is not intended to be all-inclusive. It is provided to help you understand the importance of caution and preparation when working with a person with CD.

The goal is to provide an environment where the child with CD can learn self-management skills without being consumed by the illness. An atmosphere designed to foster responsible decision making will ultimately help the child perform well both in and out of the classroom.

Thank you for your help and support.


 

*Clinical studies have shown that pure oats can be tolerated by some people with celiac disease. Pure, uncontaminated oats sources are not readily available in the United States at this time and therefore, it is suggested that oats be avoided, especially by those who are newly-diagnosed.