The new law will benefit a great number of food allergic students and their
families. It will be easier to find places where the student can eat and
significantly reduce food related expenses. This could represent savings of
over $10,000 dollars for those attending colleges where paying for food
meal plans is mandatory. Until now, many students had to pay for meal
plans even when they knew they couldn’t any of the foods served in
the college cafeterias.
With the new law students will not be required to pay for meal plans
unless provisions are made to accommodate the individual’s
allergy, such as serving peanut free, egg free, or gluten-free food choices.
How severe does the food or edible ingredient allergy have to
be before the person is considered to have a disability that qualifies
under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
Severe, not mild food allergies can be considered a disability under the law.
The new law that now classifies severe food allergy as a disability applies to
those severely allergic to gluten, peanuts, shell fish, corn, wheat, and other
food allergens. What it translates to is of interest to universities, colleges, and
other institutions to offer food allergy free foods and display the ingredients used
during food preparation including putting signs on buffet bars.
This new law will give individuals who suffer from such allergies the opportunity
to find foods that they could eat in venues where before the risk of exposure made it impossible.
Does the decision leave meal-plan type and public eateries more exposed to customer legal challenges?
The decision leaves schools, restaurants and other places that serve food more exposed to legal challenges. The most vulnerable to law suits will be public
schools, colleges, and universities places serving food on campus. Private and public company’s employee cafeterias and all public restaurant’s could also
could be liable for a lawsuit if the food service provider ignores a persons request for certain foods.
The law suit started when at least one student had complained to the federal government after the school would not exempt that student from a meal plan
even though the student couldn’t eat the food. The issue of the original complaint was that the university in question didn’t allow the student to eat off
campus, and the student had to follow the school’s meal plan, even though the student was allergic to the food served to the other students.
The settlement was won by the student. The point of the new law is that students at any college need to be allowed to bring their own food to campus to eat
in a place they’re allowed to sit in comfort where it’s warm and clean and shouldn’t be compelled to pay for only the food the school provides.In the student’s
case, the student had to pay for the meal plan for food served on campus whether the student ate the food or not. The settlement resulted in the student not
having to pay for the food the student couldn’t eat for health reasons. For more information visit Americans with Disabilities Act – United States Department of Labor.
Even if the new ADA law makes it easier for food allergic students
to eat outside of their home, the risk of a food allergic reaction will
continue to exist. Therefore, it is extremely important to self carry
the epinephrine auto injectors at all times.