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Dietary Requests

The learning environment and residential living, including dining and the University Meal Plans, are central to the University experience, particularly for our First Year students. Students seeking support services from the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) on the basis of a medically-based disability condition that results in severe food allergies or need for a strictly maintained special diet are required to submit formal documentation that verifies their eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The following guidelines are provided in an effort to assist you and your treating clinician in completing the formal request for accommodations here at the University of Virginia. These guidelines allow us to determine your eligibility and the appropriate accommodations you may receive.

To request accommodations, requests should include:

  1. Student Request for Dietary Accommodation form
  2. Medical Verification of Food Allergies or Special Diet Needs

SDAC needs documentation to accurately and equitably evaluate dietary requests based on food allergy and/or medically based dietary requirements. Documentation consists of a personal explanation of why the dietary accommodations are necessary, as well as an evaluation by an appropriate clinician that relates the current impact of the condition to the request.

As appropriate to the condition, documentation forms above include the following information:

Student Documentation

  1. Documentation of the condition or need that is the basis of the request;
  2. A clear and detailed description of necessary dietary modifications and adjustments;
  3. As much as possible an indication of the level of need for the recommended changes to the meal plan including necessary actions to plan for in the event of a mishap;

Clinician Documentation

  1. A formal assessment of current health status and diagnosis must be provided by a licensed clinician. This assessment should include a diagnostic statement and the date of your most recent evaluation.
  2. An assessment of current functional limitations. The documentation provided should describe how your condition impacts you and describe specific ways in which it may affect your academic, social or daily functioning.
  3. Treatments and/or medications currently in use that may be impacting your day to day functioning, either in a positive or negative way, should be provided. This will be taken into consideration when determining your accommodation needs.
  4. Expected stability of condition over time. The documentation should provide information about the stability of your condition, whether it is expected to improve over time, or progress, and whether changes to your accommodations may need to be made over a period of time.
  5. Recommendations for associated housing and academic accommodations and any other additional services. If your treating clinician agrees that your diagnosed conditions substantially impacts your academic functions she or he can fill out the form and fax it to us.

In addition to the basic documentation, recommendations from the treating clinician are welcome and will be given consideration in evaluating a request. Recommendations may include:

  1. Clear and detailed description of the necessary dietary modifications;
  2. Possible alternatives to the recommended configuration; and
  3. A statement of the level of need for (or the consequences of not receiving) the recommended dietary modifications.

SDAC Evaluation of Meal Plan Modification

Evaluation of meal plan dietary modification requests take into consideration the severity of the condition, as well as the timing of the request.

Severity of the Condition

  1. Is impact of the condition life threatening if the request is not met?
  2. Is there a negative health impact that may be permanent if the request is not met?
  3. Even if not permanent, is there a potential of adverse health reaction if the request is not met?
  4. Is the request an integral component of a treatment plan for the condition in question?
  5. What is the likely impact on academic performance if the request is not met?
  6. What is the likely impact on social development if the request is not met?
  7. What is the likely impact on the student's level of comfort if the request is not met?

Timing of the Request

In light of the potential for adverse health consequences due to failure to follow necessary dietary modifications; there is not a deadline date for dietary modification requests. However, please keep in mind that managing meals for thousands of students is a complex process and the earlier requests for modification are made, the more likely they will be able to be handled in an accurate and efficient manner. With that in mind, we make the following suggestions:

  1. Submit any dietary requests at the time when you submit your initial housing request, and upon any subsequent housing requests while attending the University.
  2. Submit your request as soon as possible after identifying the need. (Based on date of diagnosis, receipt of housing assignment, change in status, etc.)

All documentation submitted for consideration to SDAC is treated as personal and confidential; following federal guidelines for medical records. When submitting documentation, please include a copy of any available releases allowing communication between the SDAC and the clinician. Documentation should be sent to:

Student Disability Access Center
Elson Student Health Center
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 800760
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: (434) 243-5180
Fax: 434-243-5188