Autistic girl with nut allergy left without school lunch as Sunderland council suspends special dietary meals

Maddison Wood, six, who has a nut allergy, is one of the children who have had their school meals suspended.
Maddison Wood, six, who has a nut allergy, is one of the children who have had their school meals suspended.

A girl with autism spectrum disorder is distraught after being left without her school lunch as council chiefs were forced to suspend special dietary meals.

Sunderland City Council has suspended meals for 400 pupils while council chiefs check recipes of meals.

Council chiefs said the move had been taken as a “precautionary measure” after a suggestion that a non-dairy meal might have included a dairy-based product.

One of the youngsters affected is Maddison Wood, six, who has a nut allergy.

The Newbottle Primary Academy pupil’s mum, Jemma, 25, a former ambulance worker, said: “I got a phone call from the school telling me they had been told by the council to let the parents of every child with special dietry requirements know they couldn’t have a school meal.

“Maddison is autistic so any changes to her routine can cause problems.

“She has always had her school meals because it encourages her to try different foods.”

Gemma, who is married to Nissan worker, Reece Wood, 25, and has another child at the same school, four-year-old Bentley, said the issue was probably going to cause a lot of problems for many parents and children.

The council, which serves up more than 14,000 school meals each day, is re-checking more than 100 recipes.

It said it is not aware of any child being affected before the suspension and checks began.

But, is advising parents of children with special diets to provide their child with a packed lunch.

Councillor Michael Mordey, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for City Services, said: “I and the city council want to stress that this is a precautionary measure because some of the information given to us on special diets for school meals contains some inaccuracies.

“Because of these inaccuracies we can’t currently give a complete assurance and guarantee that all the meals for special diets meet the specified requirements.

“We are not aware of any pupils being affected and we have taken this decision to suspend special diet meals because the health and welfare of our children is our highest priority.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused. We hope that all parents appreciate it is best that we take a precautionary and proactive approach, however inconvenient.

“We are currently working with a new specialist dietician to resolve the problem, and we hope to be able to start reintroducing individual special diet meals gradually over the next few days.”

Any parent looking to discuss their circumstances can contact the City Council School’s Catering Service Manager on 0191 561 4655.