Monday, 18 April 2016

Overbrook School Eagles Nest — The Overbrook Dining Hall

Nutrition plays an important role in the education of a child. Children who are well-fed and healthy can more easily concentrate on their studies. To make sure we meet the nutritional needs of our students, the Overbrook Dining Hall offers a wide variety of delicious and healthy menu selections. Students have the choice of a hot lunch that includes a main entree, vegetable, fresh fruit, and a side salad. Other menu choices include daily sandwich selections and a full salad bar.  Soups are added during the cold months of December - March. Excess sugar is always a concern and for this reason, we offer bottled water, 2% milk and TruMoo as drink options. Menus are posted online under the Overbrook calendar and are available on a month-to-month basis. 

The Overbrook Dining Hall utilizes the Wordware School Lunch System to manage lunch purchases and family dining hall accounts. Each family is assigned an account and payments can be made online after registering your account or by sending in a check to the school office.  It is best to deposit funds into your family account 24 hours before making purchases.  It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to ensure there are sufficient funds in the family account prior to meal time.

 To log into your account, follow the link below.  You will need your family ID number to register your account for the first time.  If you do not know this number, please contact Kathleen Urciuoli at Once you are registered, you will receive balance notifications and be able to track daily purchases.

Log in to your WordWare dining hall account here.

South Sioux City Community Schools - FEEZEE for Schools

FEEZEE for Schools

Announcing an easy way to make payments on your child’s meal account.
Parents can now make payments on line directly from their

Wordware Family Site for school lunch software,  .
Use FEEZEE.   If you have more than one child in school,  make only 1 (one) payment
into the family account.  All your children use the same family account.
NEW USERS: You will need to call the Nutrition Office to receive a “family key”. 

Mora Public School District 332 FAMILY LUNCH ACCOUNT


THIS ACCESS IS AVAILABLE ONLY THROUGH YOUR PARENTVUE ONLINE ACCOUNT.   (If you do not have a ParentVUE account set up yet, please stop at any one of our schools to fill out a short application, show proof of ID and you will be given an activation key for you to complete the set-up of your online account.)  Then contact Barbara Fredrickson in Food Service to obtain your assigned ID/PIN #s for your lunch account access. 
  1. Log into your ParentVUE account and click on the Lunch Account link on the left-hand side of your computer screen.
  2. This will take you to another view where the words Lunch Account will be in Blue as a hot link-- click on that link.
  3. The Wordware window for Family Account Login will appear.
  4. Click in the Username box and enter your Family ID number.
  5. Click in the Password box and enter your assigned PIN number.
  6. Click on Sign In.
  7. Click on the drop-down arrow to choose the correct state.  Click on Minnesota to fill in the state box.
  8. Choose the school district from the drop-down arrow Mora Public Schools.
  9. Click on Sign In. 
  10. The school lunch account summary screen will appear with information on your family meal account.
  11. Scroll to the bottom of the summary screen and click on the statement: " To view a detailed report of transactions, Click Here " to view recent transactions.
  12. There is a link at the bottom of that page where you may chose to view transactions dating further back by clicking on the " To request prior history transactions, Click Here "
  13. You can choose the date range in which you want to see your transactions by clicking on the circle in front of the available date ranges.
  14. Verify the email address where you wish the statement to be sent to and press send request.
 If you have any problems or questions about this procedure, please contact Barbara Fredrickson in Food Service by email:  Barbara Fredrickson 
**Family Lunch Account online access will only be given to custodial parents.  If noncustodial parents have lunch account questions, they will need to call or email  Barbara Fredrickson directly.

Dayton seeks to fill gaps in Minnesota school lunch program

MINNEAPOLIS -- Governor Mark Dayton is calling on state legislators to add $3.5 million to the school lunch budget in the state, so that children who now pay a reduced price for meals will be able to get them FOR free.
Dayton made his remarks Tuesday in the wake of a statewide survey of school districts by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, showing that some districts deny food to children who are behind on lunch payments.
"No child in Minnesota should be denied a healthy lunch," Gov. Dayton said in a prepared statement.
"We cannot expect our students to succeed on an empty stomach."
Dayton endorsed a bill authored last session by Rep. Yvonne Selcer of Minnetonka in the House and Sen. Jeff Hayden of Minneapolis in the Senate.
Students from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level qualify for free lunches already. That level is roughly $25,000 for a family of four.
Children from families between 130 percent and 185 percent of poverty level, or $36,000 for a family of four, qualify for a reduced price lunch. Those students are expected to pay 40 cents per meal out of pocket currently in most school districts.
"These are very poor kids and we have the resources," Jessica Webster, the Legal Aid attorney who wrote the report summing up the survey of schools, told KARE.
"There is no reason to punish children in this way."
The Legal Aid study found that 46 districts in the state have policies, at least on paper, that allow cafeteria staff to withhold lunch from students who have fallen behind on those lunch payments.
The majority of schools, a total of 166 districts, told Legal Aid that they give peanut butter or cheese sandwiches and milk to students who stop paying, rather than the full fledged hot meal at lunch.
"I would argue that is by no means a nutritionally balanced meal for a kid, and the federal government agrees with that because we've had all of these healthy mandates come down," Webster said.
Another subset of 97 districts, including the Minneapolis Public Schools, have decided to provide hot lunches to all children who are eligible for reduced price lunch regardless of whether the children are making payments. In fact, in Minneapolis the school board decided to go ahead an absorb that 40 cent per meal cost of feeding students who only eligible for reduced price lunches.
Webster has been working on the school lunch issue for six years but the idea has gotten very little traction at the legislature.
But in January story out of Utah drew national attention to the issue of cafeteria finances. Cafeteria workers at a Salt Lake City school were ordered to pull lunches away from 40 children who had already gone through the line only to discover their lunch money accounts were empty. Because the food had already been served it had to be thrown in the trash, in keeping with food safety regulations.
"People didn't want to believe the same thing is happening here, but it is," Webster remarked.
"Maybe it's not 40 children in one cafeteria on the same day, but it's children all over the state who have to deal with this through no fault of their own."
She also decried the practice, which still exists in some schools, of stamping the word "money" and "lunch" on children's hands as a way to alert parents that their lunch money accounts are depleted.
Two of the districts that made the list of 46, the Osseo Schools and the West Saint Paul - Mendota Heights Schools, took issue with the Legal Aid survey's description.
Barb Olson of the Osseo Schools said that the district policy, in writing, sounds as though students can be denied meals. But she said in reality no child in Osseo is ever turned away without some type of lunch such as a sandwich and piece of fruit.
Carrie Hilger of the West St. Paul Schools said children never have to worry about having their lunch trays pulled back, but they may be fed an alternative lunch such as a sandwich and milk rather than that day's regular menu selection.


Minnesota students: You better not forget your lunch money By Jennifer Brooks Star Tribune

Star Tribune Wayzata High School lunchroom.

Some Minnesota children go to school hungry and leave even hungrier.

A majority of public school districts in this state deny hot lunch - or any lunch at all in some cases - to children who can't pay for them. Some schools take the meals from students in the lunch line and dump them in the trash when the computer shows a deficit in their lunch accounts.
Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius on Monday called the report "troubling," and fired off a letter to district superintendents.

"Like me, I know that none of you would deny a child a nutritious lunch intentionally," she wrote. "I am hoping you will speak with your food service directors regarding this information and find ways to ensure children are never turned away from receiving a hot meal."

About 62,000 low-income children and teens take part in Minnesota's reduced-price lunch program. That should mean that for 40 cents, they get a hot, nutritious lunch, with the remainder of the cost covered by public funds. But if students fail to come up with even 40 cents, some schools respond by denying or downgrading students' lunches, as Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid discovered when it surveyed 309 public school districts.

Some school districts send students home with a verbal warning for their parents or a hand stamp visible to all that says "LUNCH" or "MONEY." Others hand children a bread-and-butter sandwich and carton of milk in lieu of a hot lunch.
In a survey released Monday, 46 Minnesota school districts told Legal Aid that they immediately or eventually refuse to feed students who have insufficient funds in their lunch accounts. More than half the districts in the state - 166 of them - provide an alternative meal, typically a cold cheese sandwich, once the money runs out. Another 96 school districts, including the Minneapolis public schools, provide a hot lunch regardless of a child's ability to pay.

Students qualify for free lunch if their family makes less than about $25,000. After that they qualify for reduced-price lunch if their family makes less than $36,131. Above that, students must pay full price - an average of $10 per week per student.

A school in Utah made national headlines last month for throwing lunches in the trash if students couldn't pay. The headline of Legal Aid's report on Monday: "It's Not Just Utah."
"Lunch trays will be pulled" Despite Casellius' admonitions, it may take more than a letter from the state to change things. In some districts, lunch denial is intentional - a written mandate approved by school administrators or school boards. "Lunch trays will be pulled from a student if there is not enough money in the account," officials in Anoka County's St. Francis School District wrote in a notice to parents of students in grades six through 12. "We do not enjoy pulling trays from students and it slows the lines for other students trying to get through."

St. Francis Superintendent Edward Saxton did not respond on Monday to calls for comment. A full-price lunch in the district costs $2.20 for students in grades K-5 and $2.40 for students in grades six through 12.
The Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial School District's official lunch policy states: "Once the lunch account is at a zero balance there will be a grace period for 2 days. After that the student will need to bring a sack lunch. The student will be allowed to eat hot lunch again when they have a positive balance in their meal account."

Marshall public schools switch students over to cheese sandwiches when they run out of money in their accounts. If the account remains in deficit, the student will continue to receive sandwiches, but their parents may be referred to a collection agency and social services "for possible neglect."
"No reduced-price eligible child is turned away from a meal," Marshall Schools Superintendent Klint Willert wrote in response to Legal Aid's data practices request. He did not respond to an interview request from the Star Tribune. "The child will be given something to eat."

This is the second time Legal Aid has surveyed school lunch policies. The number of districts guaranteeing a hot lunch has increased since the initial survey in 2012, but so has the number of districts turning students away as school costs increase and budgets shrink.

"They have budgetary pressures and they have new federal mandates for healthy foods, [and] food has gotten more expensive," said Jessica Webster, staff attorney for Legal Aid's Legal Services Advocacy Project, which conducted the survey with support from the group Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. "Many just see this as a parental responsibility. Some districts don't see refusing to serve food as turning children away. They say, 'We give you a cheese sandwich for three days and then it's your parents' responsibility.' "

Cassellius, however, urged schools to find a way to guarantee a hot lunch for any student who needs one, regardless of their parents' ability or willingness to pay.
"As you know, for too many of our children, school meals may be the only nutritious meals they receive," she wrote. "We also know that children learn best when they have nutritious meals throughout their days."
The state could expand the free lunch program to all students who now receive reduced-price lunch for an estimated $3.35 million. The Legislature debated such an expansion last session, but the proposal failed to make its way into the education budget bill. Rep. Yvonne Selcer, DFL-Minnetonka, is preparing to push the bill again this year.

Minnesota School Breakfast and Lunch Program

Program Description

The National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program help schools provide nutritious meals to students each school day. These are U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs that are administered by the Minnesota Department of Education. Participating schools receive Federal and state funds for meals that meet established nutrition standards.

General Program Requirements

You may qualify for this benefit program if you have child(ren) who attend a Minnesota school (high school or under) that participates in the National School Lunch Program / School Breakfast Program. Almost all public schools and many private schools participate in these programs.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

Application Process

Schools send school meal applications home at the beginning of each school year. However, you may apply for school meals at any time throughout the school year by submitting a household application directly to your school. Your school will provide you with an application upon request.

Contact your state's agency to participate.

Program Contact Information

For additional information, visit the School Nutrition Programs page on the Minnesota Department of Education website:

If you have further questions contact the Minnesota Department of Education, Food and Nutrition Service at 651-582-8526, 1-800-366-8922 (Minnesota toll free), or email to:

Published in Print: March 5, 2014, as Bertrand Weber

Minneapolis Leader Turns School Cafeterias Into 'Real Kitchens'

Bertrand Weber
Focus of Strength: Student Nutrition
Position: Director, Culinary and Nutrition Services
District: Minneapolis Public Schools

Bertrand Weber had devoted his professional life—in boutique hotels and high-end restaurants—to pleasing the most discerning of palates.
But the breaded chicken nuggets and canned fruit swimming in syrup he saw on his son's lunch tray pushed the longtime hotel and restaurant manager to swap a career in stylish hospitality for the decidedly less posh world of school cafeterias.
He was determined to transform what K-12 students in Minnesota eat at school.
"We were pumping our kids with processed food," said Mr. Weber. "I became an angry parent."

Now, more than a decade later, Mr. Weber is the director of culinary and nutrition services for the 36,000-student Minneapolis district, where he is overseeing a massive shift in what students in that city encounter in their cafeterias.

He is steadily phasing out prepackaged meals assembled in a central kitchen and trucked to school lunchrooms and replacing them with meals made from scratch and featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats and other ingredients that are locally sourced.
Butternut-squash turkey chili, heirloom-tomato salsas, and fresh salad bars are becoming fixtures in Minneapolis' school lunchrooms.
What makes the ongoing transformation in Minneapolis remarkable is that Mr. Weber has done it with a food-service budget considerably smaller than those of similarly sized districts. When he came on board in January 2012, Minneapolis' food budget was $15.6 million, compared with $23 million across the Mississippi River in the neighboring, and slightly bigger, St. Paul school district.
And he's doing it in a district where most of the 62 schools do not have fully functioning kitchens.
"It's a really smart tactic he's using to raise the image of his program so that participation rates go up and [he can] raise more revenue to do all the things he wants to do," said Jean Ronnei, the chief of operations for the St. Paul district and the vice president of the School Nutrition Association. "For 30 years, if you talked about school food in Minneapolis, you were talking about airline-type food. He is completely changing that, and with it, completely changing people's minds about what food is in that school system."

Personal Mission

Born in Switzerland, Mr. Weber, 57, brings a missionary's zeal to the job of school food. And for very personal reasons.
His son, at age 7, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, requiring daily doses of insulin and close monitoring of his food intake.
"I went to lunch with him every day in that first year after his diagnosis," Mr. Weber said. "The last things he needed were exactly the things being served in the cafeteria every day: highly refined carbohydrates and canned, syrupy fruit. I complained endlessly about the food."
A short time later, his son's district—Hopkins, in surburban Minneapolis—launched a search for a new food-services director who had a hospitality background like Mr. Weber's.
—Jenn Ackeman for Education Week
"My family said to me that if I didn't apply for the job, I could never complain about school food again," he said. "They were right."
He landed the job. Mr. Weber led the food-services program for three years in the 7,400-student Hopkins district, where he was able to introduce more fresh produce, purchase local food products, and involve students and the community in the planning of menus. He pushed hard to eliminate trans fats in Hopkins, years ahead of the recent federal mandate to so do.
From there, he left for a job overseeing nutrition and culinary standards for a privately owned food-management company that helped more than 180 districts across Minnesota and other Midwestern states bring fresh fruit and vegetable bars to school lunchrooms. He also got involved in the growing movement known as Farm to School and currently serves on the national network's executive committee.
"That was a great opportunity to impact more kids," he said.
Then, in 2011, the Minneapolis district's longtime food-services director retired, and prominent members of the city's local food movement urged Mr. Weber to go after the job.
First, he did some due diligence. He found that lunch participation districtwide was 58 percent, a dismal rate compared with St. Paul, where participation was at 78 percent. Cincinnati, a district of similar size and demographics, had a 70 percent participation rate. There was lots of room to grow, he thought, and the challenge of expanding and improving the meals program within the constraints of a public school district's budget appealed to him.
But he also thought his candor in the job interview might backfire.
"I was very straightforward that if they wanted someone to do the status quo, go right over me," Mr. Weber said. "And I said, if you want me for the job, it's going to be about changing the system for kids."

'A Real Kitchen'

In his first few months on the job, Mr. Weber went face to face with parents and students in multiple community meetings, soliciting their critical feedback.
"People were appalled by the food service, and I told them I was just as appalled," he said. "I told them some ideas we had for making things better, but I also was very upfront that this was going to take time. I couldn't just flip one switch and go from a food-packing plant to a real kitchen."
For starters, even the district's central kitchen had been stripped of nearly all its cooking equipment in the mid-1990s. There were no ovens. No steamers.
Still, to deliver as soon as possible on promises to bring real, or "true" foods into lunchrooms, Mr. Weber and his team began installing salad bars in some of the city's schools. To pay for the first few, he tapped into his existing budget, but then quickly began seeking grants and other outside sources of revenue to cover the expenses.
As of last month, half the district's schools were offering the fresh-produce carts, which feature items such as spinach, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, pears, three-bean salad, and couscous salad.
"It was important for us to get kids off fruit wrapped in plastic packages," he said. "And it was a way to get skeptical parents paying for their kids to eat lunch at school again."
Mr. Weber also began making immediate changes to the menus. Hot dogs were sourced from a local cattle company that raises grass-fed beef and were served on buns baked by school district cooks. And Tater Tot hot dish—a beloved school lunch item in Minnesota—was revamped to be cooked from scratch by the district's head chef in the central kitchen and assembled by school-based cafeteria staff.

But beyond parents, Mr. Weber had two other critical groups to persuade to embrace his vision for real food: students and his food-services staff.
To reel in students—especially hard-to-impress teenagers—he decided to test new recipes and menu items one day a week in select schools. Students at one high school quickly dubbed Thursdays "Real Food Day" and were enthusiastic about many of the new offerings like Asian cole slaw and fresh-baked ciabatta bread.
A year and a half later, lunchroom meals in some high schools have become so popular that students who usually left campus for lunch are staying, but not everyone who wants to eat in the cafeteria can because of time and space constraints.
"We're maxed out in our high schools," he said.
Mr. Weber said the biggest pushback he got initially came from older employees in food services and the union that represents them."Some people worried we were making too many changes that were affecting people who had been here a long time," he said.
To help ease the transition, Mr. Weber offered culinary classes and prep-cook training for staff members who needed support in moving away from the assembly-line approach to food service.

Attracting Customers

Bernadeia H. Johnson, the superintendent in Minneapolis, credits Mr. Weber for "revolutionizing" school lunches in the district.
"Our students are eating healthier meals that keep them satisfied for a day of quality learning and instruction," she said in a statement. "Lunch menus are full of variety and often introduce students to new and different fresh ingredients, including foods that reflect the ethnicities of our students."
Since Mr. Weber started just over two years ago, overall participation in the district's meals program has grown from 58 percent to 66 percent, most of it among the 35 percent of students who pay full price. Participation among those who qualify for free- and reduced-price meals has also ticked up, from 72.5 percent in 2011 to 87.5 percent. To help pay for the array of food and nutrition initiatives spearheaded by Mr. Weber, lunch prices have been raised by a dime,but only for students who pay full price. Mr. Weber also has begun serving breakfast in classrooms in 20 schools, with plans to expand.
With 30 more salad bars to install and most schools still without kitchens and equipment to do on-site cooking, though, Mr. Weber and his team have hustled to raise private money to keep their momentum going. A local fitness company and General Mills are among the benefactors who are backing the efforts.
He's also found creative ways to buy local, organically raised food products within his budget.
Among the 60,000 pounds of local produce he bought for the district last fall was one farmer's entire kale crop, damaged in a hail storm.

"We were going to chop it up anyway," he said. "And it gave us a healthy vegetable to introduce to our kids."
Mr. Weber has also drawn on his deep connections to local chefs and restaurant owners to persuade them to get involved in recipe development for the district. In turn, the chefs have agreed to endorse the recipes they create for school lunches on their own menus.

"He's getting great support and publicity for what he's doing," said Ms. Ronnei of the St. Paul district. "Chefs endorsing school food? What a message that sends to the community."

Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?

What is the School Meal Program?
It is a program that pays for all or part of the cost of breakfast and lunch for children at school. By offering healthy and nutritious meals, the program also helps children to learn and grow.

The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Education - Food and Nutrition Services.
Who can get free or reduced-price meals from the School Meal Program?
Children attending public and private schools grades K-12. All foster children can get free meals. If your family is getting help from Food Support (stamps), MFIP, or FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations), you can get free meals. Otherwise, if you are not on these programs, your family has to have an income below the limits to get help. Some families can get free meals and others can get a reduced (lower) price on their meals. The most you will pay for a reduced-price lunch is 40 cents.
Are there any asset limits for the School Meal Program?
No. This program does not look at your assets to see if you can get help. (Assets are money in a checking or savings account or other things of value that you or your family own.)
If I already get Food Support, MFIP or FDPIR, or if I have a foster child, do I have to apply to get help?
Maybe. If you are on these programs, you may get a letter in August that says you are already going to get free meals. If you don’t get a letter, or if the letter doesn’t cover all of your children, you will have to apply to get help. If you get Food Support, MFIP or FDPIR, when you fill out the School Meal application you only have to write in the names of your children and your case number(s) and sign your name. If you are applying for a foster child, you only have to write the child’s name and the amount of foster care money for personal use, and sign your name. You have to fill out a seperate application for each foster child.
How do I get an application?
You can pick one up in the office at your child’s school. It may be mailed to your household during the summer with other school papers. It is called the “Application for Educational Benefits.” The application is available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Khmer (Cambodian), Laotian, Vietnamese, Arabic and Russian. You can also get an application on this website by clicking here.
When can I apply?
You can apply at any time during the school year. Applications are not accepted during the summer. If you intend to enroll your child in the program, you must wait until the school year begins to submit your application. Even if your child was enrolled before, you must fill out a new application each school year.

If your income goes down, or your household size goes up, you may be able to get help — even if you didn’t qualify for help before.

What is the application like?
It is one page long. It will ask for the names of all the children and adults in your household and how much money they make each month. The adult who fills out the application also has to write his or her Social Security Number. If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you can say that and your family can still get help.
What else do I have to do to apply?
Just turn in your application in to the school office. A small group of people will be asked to show proof of their income. The school may also check to make sure the information you gave them is correct.
What happens after I turn in the application?
The school will send you a letter to let you know if you qualify for help. You will find out in about two weeks.

How long can I be on the School Meal Program until I have to apply again?

Once you are on the program, your child can get free or reduced-price meals all school year. Some schools also cover 30 days into the next school year. You will have to apply again every year. If your income or household size changes during the year, you do not have to tell the school.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to get help from the School Meal Program?

No. Even if you, your children, or other people living with you are not U.S. citizens, you can still get help.
I am an immigrant. If I get help from the School Meal Program, am I a public charge?
No. You are not a public charge if you use the School Meal Program. Schools cannot tell USCIS (INS) if you get help.

Can I get help paying for breakfast also?

Some schools also have a breakfast program. If your child gets free or reduced-priced lunches, he or she will also get free breakfast if your school offers breakfast. You do not have to apply again for breakfast.
Does it matter how long I have lived in Minnesota to get help?

Do all schools have the School Meal Program?

No, but most schools do.

Will other kids know that my child is getting a free or reduced-price meal?
No. The school has to make sure no one can tell who is getting a free or reduced-price meal.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Schools that participate in School Nutrition Programs accept applications for free and reduced-price school meal benefits at any time. Approval is based on comparison of the household’s income to current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) household income guidelines. Schools send an Application for Educational Benefits form to the households of all enrolled students at the beginning of each school year. A letter accompanies the form and explains school meal benefits and how to apply.

Households that have already been approved for the following public assistance programs are not required to but can complete an Application for Educational Benefits using case number(s) instead of household income information:
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

Children approved for these programs may be “directly certified” for free school meals, based on data supplied to MDE by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. For more information, see Direct Certification.

U.S. Department of Agriculture MemosLinks to key USDA memos on Applications-Student Meals are provided below.
The USDA also offers a publication that explains how to determine and verify students' eligibility for free and reduced-price meals, including the Eligibility Manual for School Meals.

School Lunch Software

Food and Nutrition Program Administration

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and After School Care Program. USDA provides cash reimbursement to public schools, private nonprofit schools and residential child care institutions for nutritious meals and snacks served to children in preschool through grade 12 at a minimal cost.

Families may apply for meals served free or at a reduced-price based on the income level of the household. Residential child care institutions and juvenile correctional facilities may serve meals to children and youth 20 years of age or younger. Reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool programs is based on the income level of the households living in the local area or the enrolled children.
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). The legislation authorizes funding and sets policy for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. HHKFA upgrades the nutritional standards for school meals, increases the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by six cents, increases access to school meals, provides more meals for at-risk children, and works toward improving the quality of foods supplied to schools. For resources on how schools can best meet the new regulations, see the related links at right.

Farm to School is a nationwide collaborative effort to connect school districts with local farmers for the purpose of serving healthy school meals while utilizing local fresh foods. Farm to School aims to meet the diverse needs of school nutrition programs in an efficient manner, to support regional and local farmers and thereby strengthen local food systems and to provide support for health and nutrition education. View more information and resources on Farm to School.

Meet the Challenge and Become a HealthierUS School.
The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) recognizes schools that have taken a leadership role in helping students learn to make healthier eating and active lifestyle choices. HUSSC is a voluntary certification program for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Select the HealthierUS School Challenge link to learn more.

Nondiscrimination statement: In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.
Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.
To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
(1)   Mail:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;
(2)   Fax: (202) 690-7442; or
(3)   Email:
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Why Some Schools Are Saying ‘No Thanks’ to the School-Lunch Program By Alexandra Sifferlin

States are reporting that some of their schools are dropping out of the healthier school-lunch program because they can’t afford to participate. But does that really mean nutritious school lunches (and snacks) are doomed?

The majority of the nation’s schools — about 94% — are participating in the National School Lunch Program, which reimburses schools for the meals they serve and provides food at lower cost to feed lower-income students. These schools must follow new criteria required by the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, and include more grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in lunches. But for some, these changes are pretty challenging to follow.

In a survey conducted this summer of more than 520 district nutrition directors, the School Nutrition Association reported that a very small percentage — 1% — of schools were dropping out of the program for the 2013–14 school year, and 3% were considering abandoning the program.

(MORE: What the New USDA Rules for Healthier School Snacks Mean for Schools)
Why? Kids aren’t buying the better-for-them options in the cafeteria, and that’s leading to a drop in revenue for some schools. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pays schools back about $2.93 cents per lunch served to a child eligible for free meals, and the USDA offers an additional 6¢ per lunch for schools meeting the standards. But for smaller or nonprofit private schools that simply don’t have enough kids who qualify for these lunches, the often higher costs to feed them healthy meals that adhere to the new nutrition guidelines are not covered by this reimbursement.

“My understanding, from a few of the districts that have dropped off, is that their free and reduced percentage could be as low as 5% of the students, which means that all they are getting for the reimbursable meal is 30¢,” says Julia Bauscher, the president-elect of the School Nutrition Association and school-nutrition director at Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky. “If they had previously not offered a lot of whole grains or fruits and vegetables, or their students didn’t choose them, there was a significant increase in cost of providing the meals.”

Take the Voorheesville Central School District near Albany, N.Y., which the Associated Press featured in its story about schools struggling with the new lunch-program requirements. Superintendent Teresa Snyder says the district lost $30,000 in revenue during the first quarter of the year because of the program, since students either brought lunch from home or went without, instead of purchasing the healthier options offered in the cafeteria.

But that district is very small, and less than 6% of its students qualify for reduced or free lunch. The school still offers healthy food, and to find a way to maintain the school-lunch program, administrators worked with students to develop a nutritious and more cost-effective menu that would appeal to kids. “For us, this is not a political statement, but an economic one. We believe in the intent of the law, it simply does not apply to a district like ours,” says Snyder. “I do believe our issues revolve around our small population of free and reduced lunch — the reimbursements are so low they do not balance the cost of providing the meals according to the guidelines.”

(MORE: Stricter School-Lunch Standards Lead to Lighter Kids)
Smaller schools may also face an additional hurdle, since most of the people responsible for achieving this balance are volunteers who aren’t trained in nutrition — or food distribution. “In Kansas we have a lot of private schools and oftentimes the food-service director may be a parent, and they may not have had a lot of background in food service, so they need additional help and training. Our public schools have people who have more experience,” says Cheryl Johnson, director of child nutrition and wellness for the Kansas State Department of Education.

Of course, the entire program is predicated on the fact that children will welcome — and eat — the healthier options. As TIME has reported, schools with the greatest success in making their cafeterias healthier started early and introduced changes gradually. The Jefferson County Public Schools district in Louisville, Ky., for example, made its lunchrooms offer 50% whole grains for an entire year before the rules were even enacted, for example.

“The bigger the difference between what [the students] were accustomed to seeing on their serving line in 2011 to 2012 vs. what they saw in 2012 to 2013, the more difficult it was for the school food-service director to address the needs and concerns of the students,” says Bauscher.
USDA undersecretary Kevin Concannon says the schools that have been the most successful have also considered food presentation. For instance, dyeing applesauce bright green seems to draw students to grab it in the lunch line — possibly because they think it’s sweeter and more decadent than it actually is. “It’s a matter of really training the palate. Kids are the same as adults, we get used to eating certain ways and all of a sudden there’s an abrupt change,” he says.

(MORE: More Food for Hungry Students: USDA Tweaks School Meals)
The most difficult to please, not surprisingly, are teens in high school. Because they are probably more set in their eating habits, and because high school athletes, for example, need to eat more calories, these schools have experienced the most backlash against the new lunch options, which many students felt were too skimpy. (Wallace County High School students in Sharon Springs, Kans., even made a video that went viral last year in which they sang about their hunger pangs.)

In response to these complaints, the USDA decided to waive some of the original restrictions, by removing limits on the amount of protein and whole grains per meal. Those amendments to the rules will remain in effect this school year. Johnson says after the video, there was a 5% drop in participation among Kansas schools, but that had shrunk to only 3% by the end of the school year.

It may take several school years for the new lunch standards to be accepted, and several more before their effects are seen in children’s eating habits. What we consume, not to mention the process of sourcing, preparing and distributing food, can’t be changed overnight, much less over a semester or two. “Eating healthier is a good thing, but it is more expensive. And the truth is most students don’t want to eat healthier, so there has been and will be a transition period because what is being served at school in many cases doesn’t look like what they eat at home,” says Michael Smith, the superintendent at Tuscola Community Unit School District No. 301 in Tuscola, Ill. “I’m a proponent of the new standards health-wise, but it is another example of how all of these issues are dumped on schools. I wish they would also be addressed in other places where students eat, like fast-food [restaurants] and gas stations.”

Still, the goal of the new standards is to encourage healthy eating early on, before unhealthy habits set in. If children in elementary schools are seeing more grains and fresh produce in their cafeterias, then they may be more likely to try them and continue eating them as adolescents and adults. School, after all, is a place for learning, and that includes the cafeteria.

*This piece was updated with the latest numbers on school lunch participation.

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Department of Agriculture

The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 101,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions.  It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2009. In 1998, Congress expanded the National School Lunch Program to include reimbursement for snacks served to children in afterschool educational and enrichment programs to include children through 18 years of age.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the federal level.  At the state level, the National School Lunch Program is usually administered by state education agencies, which operate the program through agreements with school food authorities.

The National School Lunch Program provides a federal cash and commodity support for each qualified meal and snack served to students.  For school year 2009-2010, a subsidy of $2.7 for each lunch served to students eligible for a free lunch, $2.3 for each eligible reduced-price lunch, and $0.3 for each lunch served in the paid category. In 2009, the National School Lunch Program spent $8.9 billion to operate the Program.
Agency Accountable Official: Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Total Payments (Outlays)more info
Improper Paymentsmore info
Improper Payment Ratemore info


15.8% Improper Payment Rate Target more info
All amounts are in billions of dollars

Program Comments

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) relies on periodic nationally-representative studies to produce estimates of improper payments in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.  The Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification (APEC) Study created the first-ever nationally-representative estimate of payment errors in the school meals programs, for school year 2005-06.  The President’s 2011 budget requests funding for an update to the study for 2012-13.

FNS is working toward a way to depict the percentage of errors by type – certification and non-certification errors – that could be provided to the public.  Additional information on the program is also provided annually in the USDA Performance and Accountability Report.

School Meal Trends & Stats

School Meal Trends & Stats

Participation, Meals Served and Program Cost

National School Lunch Program (NSLP) Average Daily Participation:
Nearly 100,000 schools/institutions serve school lunches to 30.5 million students each day, including:
  • 19.8 million free lunches
  • 2.2 million reduced price (student pays $.40)
  • 8.5 million full price
  • 5 billion lunches are served annually
(Source: USDA FY 2015 preliminary data)
NSLP Annual Cost:
12.99 billion in federal dollars, including:
  • 11.69 billion in reimbursements
  • 1.3 billion in commodity costs
(Source: USDA FY 2015 preliminary data)
School Breakfast Program (SBP) Average Daily Participation:
Over 90,000 schools/institutions serve school breakfasts to 14 million students each day, including:
  • 11 million free breakfasts
  • 0.9 million reduced price (student pays $.30)
  • 2.1 million full price
  • 2.3 billion breakfasts are served annually
(Source: USDA FY 2015 preliminary data)
SBP Annual Cost:
  • 3.88 billion in federal reimbursements
  • No commodity entitlement
(Source: USDA FY 2015 preliminary data)  

Reimbursement Rates

Federal Reimbursement Rates for the 2015-16 School Year:
School meal programs are reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for each meal they serve. Alaska and Hawaii receive higher rates. Below are the reimbursement rates for meals served to students eligible for free meals, reduced price meals, and for students who pay for their meals. Click here for further details.
NSLP Reimbursement Rates for the 2015-16 School Year:
  • Free: $3.07
  • Reduced Price: $2.67
  • Paid: $0.29
  • Schools certified as meeting the new nutrition standards receive an additional $.06 per lunch.
  • An additional $.02 per lunch is provided to schools in which 60 percent or more of the second preceding school year lunches were served free or reduced price.
SBP Reimbursement Rates for the 2015-16 School Year:
  • Free: $1.66
  • Reduced Price: $1.36
  • Paid: $0.29
  • An additional $.30 is provided for each free or reduced price breakfast served in “severe need” schools, where at least 40 percent of the lunches served during the second preceding school year were served free or reduced price. 

Eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals

Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free school meals. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals. For the 2015-2016 school year, 130% of the poverty level is $31,525 for a family of four and 185% is $44,863.
Children from families with incomes over 185% of poverty pay full price for their meals. Local school districts set their own prices for paid meals.

School Meal Prices

School meal prices vary widely across the country. Prices are set by local school districts, usually with school board oversight. The following table lists average prices for paid meals during the 2013-14 school year. The data was collected in SNA’s State of School Nutrition 2014 survey, which included responses from 1,102 SNA member school districts nationwide.
  Lunch   Breakfast  
Elementary   $2.18 $1.26
Middle   $2.37 $1.33
High   $2.42 $1.36
Unpaid meals and charge policies:
With rising school meal prices and tough economic conditions, some families struggle to cover the cost of school meals. Many school meal programs have experienced an increase in the number of children who “charge” their school meals when parents fail to pay for school breakfast or lunch. In SNA’s  State of School Nutrition 2014 survey, nearly 71% of school districts reported that their meal program had unpaid student meal debt at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Some schools have accumulated substantial unpaid meal debts and have been forced to establish policies to address students who cannot pay for their meal and are not enrolled in the free or reduced price meal program. Policies may limit the number of times students can charge a meal or offer an alternate meal, such as a cheese sandwich, fruit and milk.
Eliminating the reduced price category:
Some school districts and states have eliminated the reduced price co-pay for school breakfast and, in some cases, for lunch. The effect has been an increase in participation by students from low-income families. These policies can also help curb unpaid meal charges.
Universal free meals:
Some schools and districts with very high percentages of low-income students offer “universal free meals.” Allowing all students to receive free meals ensures all students have access to healthy meals while reducing program administrative costs.

Cost to Produce School Meals

The cost of producing a school meal differs from one community to the next due to regional variations in food, labor and fuel costs, and local variations in school equipment and infrastructure, contract agreements, etc.
In April 2008, USDA released its School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study-II, which examined the cost of producing a school meal during school year 2005-06.The study found that, on average, the full cost to produce a reimbursable school lunch was $2.91, exceeding the free lunch subsidy, then $2.495.
To boost operational revenue, many school meal programs rely on a la carte sales, provide catering services or contract with community programs such as Head Start, child care and elder care centers to supply meals.
Breakdown in costs:
The School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study-II revealed the following average breakdown in costs for producing a school lunch:
Food 37%
Labor/Benefits 48%
Supplies 5%
Other, including Indirect Costs* 10%
Total   100%  
*Indirect costs are paid to the school district for shared expenses such as electricity and custodial services.
Typical expenses:
The average school nutrition program has a number of expenses beyond food, labor, benefits and supplies that factor into the budget. These include:
  • Purchased and leased equipment (kitchen, office, dining, vehicles)
  • Purchased services (contracts with vendors for data processing, consultant fees, custodial, printing, advertising, legal, human resources, etc)
  • Repair / maintenance
  • Electricity / water / trash removal
  • Transportation / fuel
  • Professional development
  • Marketing / promotion
  • Security services and lunch room supervision
Financial challenges under the new nutrition standards:
In light of rising food costs and the increased cost of producing a school meal to meet new nutrition standards, school nutrition professionals face a delicate balancing act to keep their programs in the black.  
According to USDA, the new regulations added 10 cents to the cost of preparing every school lunch and 27 cents for every breakfast. To help schools meet the rules, Congress provided school meal programs only 6 additional cents for each lunch and no additional funds for breakfast.  
In recent SNA survey, nearly eight in every ten school districts have had to take steps to offset financial losses since the new standards were implemented. Actions include reducing staffing, deferring or cancelling equipment investments and diminishing the meal program’s reserve fund, critical for investing in program improvements. 
SNA is calling on Congress to provide increased funding and regulatory flexibility to help school meal programs manage higher costs.

Lunch Period Scheduling

Federal regulations governing NSLP state that “Schools must offer lunches between 10 am and 2 pm. Schools may request an exemption from these times from the State agency.”
USDA “encourages schools to provide sufficient lunch periods that are long enough to give all students adequate time to be served and to eat their lunches.”
SNA’s State of School Nutrition 2014 survey, which included responses from 1,102 SNA member school districts nationwide, revealed that the typical lunch period length is about half an hour, with a median of 25 minutes reported for elementary schools and 30 minutes for middle and high schools. However, this data does not specify the amount of time students have to eat their meals, as lunch periods must also include travel time from the classroom to the cafeteria and time in line to get a meal.
Lunch schedules and short lunch periods continue to challenge school nutrition professionals, as they work to serve hundreds of students in a matter of minutes and ensure students have adequate time to enjoy their meals. Under new nutrition standards for school meals, cafeterias are offering more fresh produce, which takes more time for students to consume.
More detailed data on lunch period length and schedules can be found in USDA’s School Nutrition Dietary Assessment - IV (school year 2009-10).

Participation, Meals Served and Program Cost
Reimbursement Rates
Eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals
School Meal Prices
Cost to Produce School Meals
Lunch Period Scheduling
School Lunch Software

End Summer Child Hunger Now!

nata_vkusidey via Getty Images
Spring is almost in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Millions of children in America can’t wait for summer vacation, but for millions of poor children who rely on school meals it’s a mixed blessing.
I qualify for free and reduced lunch. I can get a free breakfast, I can get like a muffin, juice, anything like that, in the morning, and then lunch, I don’t have to pay, so I can get whatever I wanted for lunch. So I’ve always been able to eat at school for lunch and breakfast.
Linda Ransom is a Columbus, Ohio high school senior and the winner of a Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® scholarship whose family struggles to make ends meet. When Linda was seven her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and the medical crisis led to a family financial crisis. Linda’s mother lost her job, and with a mountain of medical bills is still trying to catch up ten years later. They’ve been homeless for stretches of time. Food has often been beyond their means. Linda says, “If we didn’t have any food at home, I knew I could get some at school, and sometimes I could take a couple things from the breakfast line and I could just save it for later, so when I got home, if I was hungry, I could eat it.”
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation and poor children like Linda who rely on free and reduced price breakfast and lunch during the school year to keep the wolves of hunger at bay face a long summer of food deprivation. It was hard without school during the summer, but being able to qualify for something like food stamps or having a food pantry near us, that helped a lot,” Linda says, but at the end of the month, “it was kind of like a hit-or-miss kind of situation.” 
Hit or miss. No child in rich America should go hungry this or any summer, especially when 100 percent federally funded summer feeding programs are available if local officials and communities apply for or use them. But more than 1 in 4 families with children are food insecure and struggling to keep food on the table. The federal Summer Nutrition Programs could help millions more children escape hunger this summer by providing meals if responsible adults act now. The need is urgent. Although 19.7 million children received free or reduced price lunches during the 2013-2014 school year, only 3.2 million children – 16.2 percent – participated in the Summer Nutrition Programs.
If local school boards, community groups, faith congregations, mayors, and county representatives act now, they should be able to get 100 percent federally funded Summer Nutrition Programs in their area or add more if there already are some summer food sites. The federal Summer Food Service Program and the “Seamless Summer” option offered through the National School Lunch Program are designed to replace the regular school year breakfast and lunch programs. Meals provided through the Summer Nutrition Programs also can link children without summer learning opportunities, camps or other costly options to educational and recreational programming to keep them learning, active and safe during school vacation. Summer feeding programs also create jobs for food preparers, servers, bus drivers and others.
Schools, community recreation centers, playgrounds, parks, places of worship, day and residential summer camps, housing projects, migrant centers, and Native American reservations are among places that can serve as summer feeding program sites. Many more sites are needed to fill the summer hunger gap for millions of children. Far too many communities have no sites at all or have sites difficult for children without transportation to reach. Check in now with your school officials, mayors and county executives to learn what they are doing to prevent childhood hunger. Some questions to ask include:
  • How many children receiving school year breakfasts and lunches will be served by Summer Food Service Programs?  What steps have they taken or will they take immediately to get more summer feeding sites up and running?
  • How are parents notified about free summer food options?
  • Are there district school buses that could be outfitted to deliver summer meals to inaccessible rural areas?
  • How many weekend and holiday meal backpacks are provided to children within the Summer Food Service Programs? Has your school district reached out to seek community support for these backpacks?
  • In districts with large percentages of children in housing projects, have you or local officials asked housing authorities to make sure they get food to hungry children?
  • Are faith communities and service organizations with kitchens in your community aware of the 100 percent federally funded resources and planning to provide summer meals this summer? Do they know about the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® program that provides summer reading enrichment and food to stop summer learning loss and hunger among low-income children?
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working very hard to reach more children and is testing exciting new ways to help overcome barriers blocking summer meals for hungry children. Some communities are using mobile vans to transport meals. Others use electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards to transfer money to help families purchase extra food for children in the summer. When 4.9 million households, including 1.4 million with children, had no cash income in fiscal year 2014 and depended only on food stamps to stave off hunger, every public official, congregation, and school system needs to use every tool available to help keep children from going hungry over three long summer months.
Check the Summer Meals Toolkit on the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s Summer Feeding Service Program website to learn more about becoming a Summer Meal Champion in your community or call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479. There is no reason why there should be a single hungry child in America. Please act now before the school year ends to allow millions of children to take a real school vacation without hunger pains.

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