SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has dramatically changed the meals served in school lunchrooms. Although ROCORI still offers choices of meals, the nature of the food products is quite different than five years ago. I would like to share some information related to the food service program in our school district.
Last week, we reviewed information about the meals and the federal programs governing the process. This week, I would like to look at some more local issues including our policies and the process for free and reduced price meals.
DISTRICT MEAL POLICY
Since the start of the school year, we have been working with our families to educate them about the ROCORI meal policy. The policy is fairly simple but is important in setting parameters about financial issues related to food service.
The policy includes these provisions:
- The ROCORI School District recognizes the parent/guardian’s responsibility to provide breakfast and lunch for their children. Proper nutritional intake is essential for adequate learning to occur.
- It is the policy of ROCORI School District to offer lunch. The food service department strives to produce quality meals at a reasonable cost according to federal guidelines.
- Students may purchase meals when funds have been deposited into their family account(s) or by cash payment.
- Households may apply for free/reduced meals anytime during the school year. Applications are provided to all students during open house before the start of the school year. In addition, applications are available at all offices.
In addition, there are several procedural issues that are important to know. They include:
- Students are notified of a low balance when the balance falls below $10. The notice can be verbal or a written reminder note to give to the parents.
- The parents will receive an automated phone call or e-mail when the account is below $10.
- After repeated attempts to collect food service payments have failed and the account is at least $10 negative, an alternative meal will be offered at lunch.
FREE AND REDUCED MEALS
Parents, students and families who may have difficulty with making payments for the meals offered at school are encouraged to complete and submit the application for Free and Reduced Meals. The program, through the federal government and supplemented by the state, is intended to provide school meals to families with financial limitations.
The guidelines for eligibility are fairly broad. Family income is certainly the key qualifier, but there are other elements that factor into the equations. Size of family, number of students in school and other issues are used to make the final determination.
Families need to know that the information provided for free/reduced meal applications is processed and handled in a very confidential manner. With electronic processing of meal charges by student number, the process is much more confidential than it has ever been!
In addition to individual students or families receiving the meals, the district also benefits from approved free/reduced meal applications!
DID YOU KNOW?
The amount of Title 1 funding our schools receive is determined by the number of families who qualify for free/reduced lunch.
- Title 1 programming provides supplemental help to students in Reading and Math.
- Title 1 supports classroom teachers by making additional staff available to work with students.
The number of students that qualify for free/reduced meals can also affect district eligibility for grants and other support programs.
Eligibility for safe schools efforts, including additional school resource officers, can be affected by the number qualifying.
Academic support programs, beyond Title, can be affected by free/reduced lunch qualification.
Many federal grants are based on the percentage of free/reduced meal students.
The food service program affects nearly all of our students. With closed campuses across the district, we have very high levels of participation in our food service program. We want our students to eat healthy lunches and encourage families who may be struggling with school lunch to consider completing a free/reduced lunch application.
Our staff works very hard to provide high quality, nutritious meals. They are always looking for ways to strengthen and improve the food offerings. Although there have been changes in the requirements over the last few years, we still believe we offer an excellent meal program!