Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies with PTO Mom.

If you have a child with food allergies, you have heard of a “504 Plan” but don’t really know much about it. Some school districts have even said they don’t do 504 plans in their district. Abiding by Section 504, which is a federal law, is not optional.

I will answer some questions that some readers have asked, referring to Section 504 in public schools.

Q: How do you get a 504? What exactly is a 504 plan? -Kelly (unknown last name)

A: A “504 Plan” is a type of written agreement between you and the school providing information on the accommodations you feel your child needs so that he/she can have the same opportunities at school as everyone else. Accommodations can include: nut-free classroom, nut-free lunch table, non-food celebrations…etc. A student is considered eligible for a “504 Plan” if they have an impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. According to Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act, if the impairment is episodic (the food allergic child is not always reacting just as an epileptic is not always seizing), it doesn’t dismiss eligibility if the impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities when active. With a food allergic child, during anaphylaxis, the major life activity that would be limited would be breathing and eating.

To get a 504 plan established for your child, first you should contact the school’s principal, with a written request. You can find sample letters online by google searching: sample letter requesting accommodations under section 504 or sample letter for 504 plan for food allergies. In the letter I would request that if your child is denied for some reason, you would like a written denial with reason why sent to you. This way you have it in writing, just in case you need to fight it. Personally, I would physically hand it to a staff member at the school’s office so you know the school received it. I would also, if you feel it is necessary, to email a copy to the principal too. The standard time to wait to receive a call back is 5 business days, so if you have not received a call back to schedule a meeting within 5 business days, call the school to speak to the principal. I would also send in the same letter to the school nurse and even the school councilor/social worker.

Q: What sort of accommodations should I request for at my child’s 504 meeting? – Hanna J.

A: You can ask for any accommodations that you feel are reasonable requests to help manage your child’s food allergies in school. Accommodations that you can include are:

  • nut-free classroom
  • nut-free lunch table
  • non-food celebrations
  • allowing a “safe snack” bag in the classroom
  • allowing your child to carry an Epipen (or Auvi-Q) in school and on field trips
  • request to be the first parent called to volunteer for classroom parties and/or field trips
  • table cleaned after each lunch… etc.
  • request all staff and drivers are Epipen (and/or Auvi-Q) trained

Q: My son, who is 6, is allergic to peanuts (not tree nuts). His school is peanut free. Should I get a written management plan for him even though the school is peanut free? – Samantha W.

A: Absolutely! Even though the school is peanut free, you still may need some accommodations such as:

  • self carrying an Epipen or Auvi-Q
  • request all staff and drivers are Epipen (and/or Auvi-Q) trained
  • request to be the first parent called to volunteer for field trips

A “504 Plan” doesn’t necessarily need to be your first choice for a written management plan. If the school is willing to work with you, a simple written management plan would work for you. The difference is, a “504 Plan” is a legal document that, once agreed upon, makes everyone held accountable for their part. A written management plan, is more like an agreement between you and the school. If it isn’t signed, they can say it never existed, because there is not paperwork to prove their accountability. “504 Plans” are better in that if the school staff changes, this legal binding document doesn’t.

It is ultimately up to the parents to decide what is best for managing their child’s food allergies in school.


You can understand more about managing food allergies in a school setting by taking a look at this guide:

Safe At School And Ready To Learn: A Comprehensive Policy Guide for Protecting Students with Life-threatening Food Allergies.

Arizona Food Allergy Alliance, get a 504 plan

Food Allergies in School: What School Staff Need To Know


Resources if you have problems regarding your child’s food allergy management at school:

1-800-514-0301 is the ADA voice information line.

1-800-421-3481 is the U.S. Dept of Edu. Civil Rights Office (this is who you need to talk to about implementing and enforcing a 504 plan)



Have a question regarding Peanut, Tree Nut or Other food allergies in school? Want to suggest a topic for me to discuss? Follow Me on Facebook @ or Contact me @ and follow my Inspiredeats column here

Get “Schooled” on Food Allergies With PTO Mom!

 *All information on this page is not to be taken instead of medical advise.*