Supporting Students with Special Dietary Needs in School Nursing

Olga Gurjanova, Marelle Grunthal-Drell, Irma Nool


When it comes to students who have special dietary needs in relation to the provision of school catering, their nutritional requirements should be taken into account. As the incidence of chronic diseases in children is on the rise, the role of school nurses in student catering is becoming ever more important. This qualitative study describes the school nursing support of students who have special dietary needs. The final targeted sample consisted of fifty-seven school nurses who were working in general education schools. Findings show that the responsibilities of these school nurses are multifaceted when they are tasked with supporting students who have special dietary needs. The participation of school nurses in terms of being able to provide advice for the provision of school catering for students who have special dietary needs tends to vary greatly in schools, and participation levels are generally low. The research revealed that the workload of school nurses is uneven across schools. The more students there are in the school, the less nutritional counselling is provided. The results point to the potential health risks which can be associated with providing unsuitable food to students. The necessary competence of a school nurse in the field of nutrition should not be underestimated.

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