Does my child need a 504 plan?

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Do I need a 504 plan at school for my child with celiac disease? What types of accommodations are in a 504 plan?


Yes, it is highly recommended to have a 504 plan in place at school. The best way to protect and ensure that a student who requires a gluten-free diet gets special accommodations at school is to create a 504 plan. Celiac disease is considered a disability, if your child attends a public or charter school they have the right to have a 504 plan that lists accommodations specific to their disability. Accommodations are based on each individual’s unique needs and should be decided with parent and student input. Be prepared to talk to your child’s school nurse, teacher, art teacher and food service department.

A 504 plan can include important things such as:

Meals at school

Food in the curriculum

Art supplies and gluten


Steps to a 504-plan infographic:

Example Accommodations:

Avoid all foods containing wheat, barley, rye and commercial oats.

Contact parents at least seven days before any event/celebration that involves food or food in the curriculum so that a gluten-free alternative can be arranged.

Provide parents with labels at least seven days ahead of time of any foods that are going to be served at events/celebrations or used in the curriculum, so that they can be evaluated for gluten content.

Use gluten-free alternatives to play dough and papier mâché, and avoid being in an environment where flour is dispersed into the air.

Ensure student washes hands with soap and water after art activities or when using food in the curriculum.

Ensure student washes hands with soap and water before eating. Note that hand sanitizer will not remove gluten.

Ensure student has a seating arrangement during meals that allows adequate space to prevent cross-contact with gluten.

Ensure work and eating surfaces are cleaned with water and detergent and kept free of crumbs and debris.

Allow student unrestricted use of bathroom when needed.

Allow student time off if having had gluten exposure.

Allow student extended time to complete assignments or taking tests due to recovery from gluten exposure.

For more detailed information, check out our new ROCK School Packet which provides you with the necessary tools to help you advocate for your child’s needs and navigate the school environment, including comprehensive information on:

Steps to a 504 plan

School meals

Packed lunches


Art supplies and food in the curriculum

Sample letters for teachers and food service staff

Download your FREE ROCK School Packet

Check out our other resources of support:

A free course for the newly diagnosed: Getting Started: Gluten-Free in 1,2,3. This course is packed with everything parents and caregivers need to know about celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. In addition, there are many downloadable materials and infographics throughout.

Virtual support group for parents and caregivers:

Join us on the last Wednesday of every month to ask questions and to talk to other parents about all things celiac/gluten-free. This meeting is meant for anyone caring for a child with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. NCA’s Registered Dietitian and Director of Education Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN will be hosting the group. Importantly, she and one of her children also have celiac disease. Bring all your questions!

Frequently discussed topics:

Navigating schools and 504 plans

Parties and celebrations

Sharing a kitchen




The last Wednesday of the month at 4 PST/7 pm ET

Register in advance here:

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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