Religion and School Food

By Shamus P. O'Meara and M. Anne Santos

The issue of religious accommodation in public schools and publicly funded charter schools has exploded in the past several years, mostly because of our continually shifting religious landscape and resulting diversity. We now have a greater awareness of the customs and cultural values of a broad spectrum of religions. We also are more conscious of how the religious practices and customs of students can be reasonably balanced and accommodated, particularly in the lunchroom.

With many religions having dietary restrictions, public schools and their administrators are increasingly challenged to address questions involving a growing number of students with varying nutritional needs and dietary restrictions. Little guidance on this complicated issue exists in the courts or within school organizations. We are going to offer some practical options to these nutritional challenges.

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