Meal Plan Accommodation Policy - ODAS

Liberty University generally requires all students living on campus to purchase a University Meal Plan in connection with financial check in. Exemptions from the university’s standard Meal Plan Policy are permitted only under special circumstances requiring a reasonable accommodation. The university will make reasonable accommodations regarding meal plans for individuals with a disability through application to the Office of Disability Academic Support. In the event that a student has special circumstances requiring a reduction or exemption from the University’s Meal Plan, the student must abide by the following procedure and use the Meal Plan Accommodation Request Form.


Checklist

The following must be timely submitted to the Office of Disability Academic Support (ODAS) in order to make a Meal Plan Accommodation Request:

  • Meal Plan Accommodation Request Form
  • Personal Statement
  • Authorization to Release Medical Information
  • Responsibilities of Students with Dietary Needs Form

Procedure for Accommodation Requests

  1. Review this information and gather the necessary documentation.
  2. Provide a Personal Statement explaining why a Meal Plan reduction or exemption is needed in your case. Please include:
    • Your name, residence hall building and room number
    • The type of accommodation you are requesting (i.e. a specially prepared dietary Meal Plan through Dining Services or a full exemption from Dining Services food)
    • The reason for your request (i.e. the type of food allergy qualifying as a disability)
    • If your request is for a full exemption, please explain why Dining Services cannot accommodate your needs through a Meal Plan reduction or special dietary accommodation arranged by the university’s dietitian and specially prepared by the chefs
    • The resources, if any, you have used on campus to help with your current situation
    • How having a reduced meal plan or exemption will help your situation
    • How meals will be provided if your preferred accommodation involves eating meals at a campus location(s) other than the dining hall
  3. Fill out the Authorization to Release Medical Documentation and submit it to your health care provider with instructions to forward supporting documentation to the university along with any additional information (i.e. letter, note of explanation) that would be helpful for consideration of the accommodation request (see Dietary Restriction Specifications section below).
  4. Fill out the Responsibilities of Students with Dietary Needs Form.
  5. Submit your completed Application Materials to the Office of Disability Academic Support in RH 126 or by email. The deadline for submitting your Application Materials is 30 days before Dining Halls open. An incomplete submission will delay consideration of your Application Materials as it will be returned to you without being reviewed. Completed Application Materials must be submitted prior to the deadline. Late requests for reasonable accommodation will be considered on an individualized basis, but the university cannot guarantee that an accommodation can be made in such cases.
  6. After you submit your Application Materials, you may be contacted via phone or your student email account to schedule an appointment with a university representative. During this meeting, the representative will assist in determining if the Dining Program can, or cannot, accommodate your needs by engaging you in a discussion. The representative will provide the university the necessary supporting documentation that is required to be considered along with your Application Materials.
  7. Following your meeting and a review of all materials submitted, a decision will be made by the Exemption Committee whether Dining Services can, or cannot, accommodate your needs.
  8. Notifications of the decision will be sent to your university-issued email account.

Any student dissatisfied by a decision concerning a Meal Plan accommodation request may appeal through the Office of Disability Academic Support.

Keep in mind:

  • No Refunds. Refunds for previous semesters will not be provided. The Application Materials submitted are for the current or next academic year.
  • Annual Submission. The Application Materials must be resubmitted annually, and in some cases (i.e.. evolving medical condition), may need to be revisited per semester.
  • Individualized Assessment. A physician’s note does not mean automatic exemption from the Meal Plan. It will be taken into account along with the rest of the Application Materials. The university will conduct an individualized assessment for each application.
  • Documentation. Additional documentation may be requested.

Dietary Restriction Specifications

To be considered for exemption from the Meal Plan for dietary restrictions, you must provide documentation to support the medical concerns that you believe cannot be accommodated within the Meal Plan structure.

Students and physicians should avoid making requests for exemption based on medically unsubstantiated beliefs (i.e. Dining Services food is unhealthy or too high in fat; student is a vegetarian; student is not using Dining Services because food disagrees with student or because food is not organic). Exemptions are made solely on the basis of documented health conditions that Dining Services is unable to accommodate.  In the event of food intolerances or allergies qualifying as disabilities, the physician must state specifically which food(s) cannot be consumed and what allergic reaction(s) occur.

Examples of commonly used reasons that are NOT grounds for accommodation or exemption requests are:

  • Vegetarian or vegan
  • Saving money
  • Having more meals than are being utilized
  • Eating organic/avoiding pesticides and/or food preservatives
  • Having an on-campus dorm room with a kitchen/kitchenette

Each Meal Plan petition citing dietary restrictions will be assessed on an individualized basis, taking the following factors into account:

  • Does the student have a medically diagnosed condition requiring a dietary restriction (i.e., Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, severe peanut allergy, etc.)?
  • Does the student have medical documentation from a physician or other licensed healthcare provider qualified to render the opinions stated?
  • Does the student have adverse reactions when eating in the dining hall?
  • Has the student had Emergency Room (ER) visits relating to adverse reactions?
  • Prior to filing this Meal Plan Accommodation Request, has the student met with the university’s dietitian to inquire about accommodation?
  • Can an accommodation that meets the disability be offered through Dining Services?
  • Would an accommodation fundamentally alter the dining program of Liberty University?