Hampshire County Council Catering Service

Special diets

Providing custom menus for children with special dietary requirements

Special diets

Primary students trying new food

HC3S can provide special diets for pupils with allergies and intolerances who want to have a school meal. Special diets are provided for pupils with a medical problem, not just a dislike of certain food. We will require medical evidence confirming your child’s allergy.

Our standard primary school menu is nut free. Our ingredients are manufactured in a nut free environment so all children with a nut allergy can eat our standard menu without having to register for a special diet.

To prevent cross contamination, our school kitchens are unable to accept any products that brought in by parents or guardians.

We work with a dietitian to produce specific diets. The products and areas of production are included in the analysis by the dietitian to make sure food is suitable for children with specific allergies. The products used in these diets are never substituted.

What do I do if my child needs a special diet for medical reasons?

We need you to complete a medically identified special diet application form (HC300).

There are three parts to the form:

Part A – to be completed by you as the parent or guardian

Part B – to be completed by your doctor or a registered dietician

Part C – to be completed by you once you’ve read the terms and conditions on our Medically Identified Special Diet Policy

Follow our easy step by step guide to help you complete the form and understand all the stages.

Why do I need to provide medical evidence?

Withdrawing a food group from your child’s diet should always be monitored by a health professional.

What if I do not want to register my children for a special medical diet menu?

HC3S has a rigorous process in place to provide a safe meal service to pupils with food allergies or intolerances by providing a Medial Special Diet, please refer to the HC3S guide on how to apply for a Medical Special Diet.  We would always strongly recommend full registration for any child food allergies.

If you do not choose to register, you take responsibility for your child’s choice and we strongly recommend that you consult with our allergy matrix, which can be found at the allergen portal. The matrix relates to the ingredients available on our current standard menu and provides information for the 14 main allergens.

When can your child receive their special diet?

Once your school has scanned your completed form, it will be given to our food development team to devise your child’s menu. This will either be a generic menu or named menu.  This will be securely sent to your school after 10 working days. Your school will inform you when your child can start eating a school lunch.

Identifying your child

We need to clearly identify your child when they are queuing to ensure we hand them the correct meal.

If your child has a special medical diet we will provide them with an orange silicone wrist band to wear. In addition, the school will select one or both of the following:

  • A member of school staff will take them to the service counter
  • A member of the HC3S team will serve them first at the start of each sitting or year group

We hold the special diet identification form on file as a record of special diet identity for every school in line with GDPR.

Will my child have the opportunity to take part when their school holds a theme day lunch?

When schools hold theme day lunches, a menu is produced for pupils, especially to tie in with the theme; please let your school know in plenty of time if your child wishes to stay for lunch on the theme day; so our catering staff can contact our Food Development team to discuss an alternative meal that is suitable for your child’s special dietary needs.

What if my child would like to eat a school breakfast or select an option from the school tuck shop?

Our special diet team focus and devote their resources on feeding a healthy and nutritious lunch to children who have registered as having a medical special diet. This means we are unable cater for specific special diets for schools that choose to offer a breakfast or morning break/tuck shop service. We can however provide a full list of ingredients for all the items we offer. For those schools that require this information, email our Food Development team at  HC3Sfooddevelopment@hants.gov.uk.

Are your kitchens ‘free from?’

Due to the risk of contamination, unfortunately we are unable to class our school kitchen as ‘free from’.  However, our staff are trained in allergy awareness and food safety so that you can have complete peace of mind that your child is safe while eating a school lunch.

How are special diets meals prepared?

We prepare and serve special diet meals using different baking sheets, cooking and serving utensils.

What information is needed to provide a medical special diet?

Parents and guardians should complete our form.  Follow our easy step by step guide.

When should I apply for a medical special diet for my child?

As soon as your child’s school place is confirmed, you should complete our form to tell us about your child.

Can you cater for special diets for religious or ethical reasons?

Other diets combined with special dietary requirements (e.g. lifestyle/religious)

In addition to our standard primary menu, we can offer a pork free, beef free or vegan menu. These can be requested through your school. If you require one of these diets and your child also has a food allergy or intolerance, you must complete our medically identified special diet application form HC300 and select the appropriate menu choice. On receipt of the completed and signed HC300 form, an adapted menu will be produced for your child and sent to their school.

Download special diet request form