Nutrition services for children with special health needs

The Community Nutrition Network is part of Children with Special Health Needs. The Network provides individualized nutrition services for children with special health needs who have specific growth, feeding and dietary needs, and their families.

Services are provided by expertly trained Registered Dieticians (RDs) who serve all regions of Vermont. 


Children who are commonly referred for these services are living with a special health need, and:

  • Have difficulty gaining weight
  • Are overweight for how tall they are
  • Eat only a limited variety of foods
  • Have problems with constipation
  • Have challenges with feeding and eating
  • Cannot safely eat by mouth
  • Have diagnoses that change their needs for specific nutrients
Why are Community Nutrition Network services needed? 

As many as 40% of infants and children with special health care needs are at nutritional risk.

Children with chronic health conditions are at high risk for nutrition and related feeding behavioral problems due to changes in developmental skills, behavior and emotional regulation, and changes in digestion and metabolism related to many chronic conditions. Children with Special Health Needs dietitians' strategies to address these challenges can augment treatment plans and improve outcomes, including improved growth, behavior, parent-child interaction and cognitive development.

A well-nourished child has greater alertness and stamina to participate in therapies, educational activities and social interactions, and also benefits from fewer illnesses and improved coping skills. Improved nutritional status and feeding skills may increase the level of independence the child is able to achieve. It can improve the child’s perception of self and the caregivers’ perceptions of their abilities to meet the child’s needs.

How does a family access Community Nutrition Network services?

Anyone in the child’s circle of support might suggest nutrition services, but health care providers (like doctors or nurse practitioners) or your Children’s Integrated Services/Early Intervention team can make a referral.

A guide to Nutritionist Service Areas

For questions, call the Nutrition Program at 802-865-7709, or email us.