Q. Who plans the school menus?
A. The menus are planned by a registered dietitian with input from supervisors, school kitchen managers and staff, students, and parents. Many factors, such as student acceptance of food items, dietary guidelines, production, serving, and cost, are considered when planning menus.
Q. Are school meals healthy?
A. Yes, school meals are healthy choices for students. A healthy diet includes a variety of foods eaten in moderation, and school meals strive to provide that variety. Every meal includes a meat or meat alternate, a bread or grain product, at least two fruits and/or vegetables, and milk. Each year, we are expanding our selection of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grain items so students have many healthy options. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Program sets specific nutrient requirements to ensure that all breakfast meals provide 1/4 and lunches provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calories, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. Each weekly menu has less than 30% of calories from fat, and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.
Q. How is the school menu determined?
USDA has created a method of menu planning for school breakfast and lunch programs that requires a certain number of "components" be offered at each meal. There are 4 categories of components in a school meal - bread, meat/meat alternate, fruit/vegetable, and milk. At breakfast, 4 components must be offered - milk, a fruit/vegetable/fruit juice, and a choice of 2 breads, 2 meat/meat alternates, or 1 bread and 1 meat/meat alternate. Students must take at least 3 components to fulfill a reimbursable meal. At lunch, 5 components must be offered - milk, bread, meat/meat alternate, and at least 2 different fruits/vegetables. Again, students much take at least 3 of the components in order to be considered a reimbursable meal. If a student takes less than 3 components they will be charged a la carte pricing for each item.
Q. Does my child always receive everything on the menu?
A. Every student is offered every item on the menu. However, they are only required to take 3 of the 4 components offered at breakfast and 3 of the 5 components offered at lunch. For example, a hamburger contains a bread component and a meat component so a student could take the hamburger and milk and that would be considered a full meal. Although we offer many options, the student can ultimately choose what they would like to take.
Q. Are there vegetarian options?
A. Yes, we offer at least one vegetarian entrée daily.
Q. Why do parent meals cost more?
A. As part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, we receive a reimbursement from the federal government for student meals which allows us to keep student prices low. We do not, however, receive any reimbursement for adult meals. Therefore, we love for parents to join us for lunch, but the meal will be slightly more expensive than your child’s.
Q. Can I limit my child’s a la carte purchases?
A. Yes. You can contact your child’s school kitchen to prohibit your child from purchasing a la carte items or to request only certain items be purchased. The kitchen staff will put a reminder of this in the computer in case your child attempts to purchase something that you would like them to avoid.
Q. Why do you offer chocolate milk?
A. Milk contains several very important nutrients that are often lacking in the American diet, including calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium. Currently, 30% of 4-8 year olds, 9 out of 10 teenage girls, and 7 out of 10 teenage boys are not meeting the daily recommended servings of calcium which can lead to poor bone density and a greater risk for osteoporosis. Although chocolate milk does have more sugar than white milk, it still contains all of the beneficial nutrients that students need. A recent research study found that removing flavored milk resulted in a 35% drop in milk consumption. Therefore, we have chosen to continue offering chocolate milk, but we are now serving a fat free chocolate milk.
Q. Why do the school meals contain so many “junk” food items?
A. Unfortunately, pizza, hamburgers, tacos, and other popular food items have become labeled as “junk” foods. However, these foods have nutritional value and can be prepared in ways that are healthy. For example, our pizza is prepared on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and sometimes topped with vegetables or fruit, and our hamburgers are served on whole grain buns with lettuce and tomato. These foods can be part of a healthy, balanced diet and we are striving to provide nutritious food choices that appeal to students.
Q. What if my child has a food allergy?
A. Schools may take food allergies or intolerances into consideration, but they are not required to accommodate all food allergies. Meals for students with special needs shall be prepared in accordance with Individualized Education Plans, Section 504 Plans, or Food Allergy Action Plans. Food substitutions may be authorized for individual disable children with medical or dietary restrictions. Requests for food substitutions shall be accompanied by a statement or prescription signed by a licensed physician (see Superintendent Policy 3700 for more info). Our kitchens are sensitive to common allergens, specifically peanut allergies. For this reason, our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are prepackaged to avoid contamination of other food items. In most cases, food allergies can be managed within the normal meal service due to the variety of choices available through Offer vs. Serve. If you have questions about the ingredients for a specific menu item please call your child’s school kitchen.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.)
If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or e-mail at email@example.com. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 or (800) 845-6136 (in Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.