School lunch prices will remain the same

Parents urged to complete free and reduced lunch application before school starts


Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:23 p.m.

Students in Alachua County Public Schools will continue to see more whole grains and a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in their school lunches while those in several elementary schools will continue to receive fresh fruit and vegetable snacks in addition to the breakfast and lunch they already receive.

Facts

MEAL COSTS

School breakfast and lunch prices for 2013-2014 will remain the same as last year. For more information, call 352-955-7539.

BREAKFAST
All students: $1, $.30 reduced price and free at 11 elementary schools.
Adults: $1.75.

LUNCH
Elementary: $2.15, $.40 reduced price.
Middle/High: $2.40, $.40 reduced price.
Adults: $3.15.

And free breakfast for all students will be offered at the following east Gainesville schools, which have at least 80 percent of students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program. They are: Caring and Sharing Learning School, Duval Elementary, Fearnside Family Services Center, Horizon/New Pathways Center, Lake Forest Elementary, Metcalfe Elementary, Prairie View Elementary and Rawlings Elementary.

School begins Monday in Alachua County.

Lunch and breakfast prices will remain the same, and if your family needs a little extra help, you can apply for the free- and reduced- lunch program, which is available to eligible students.

Maria Eunice, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Alachua County Public Schools, said applications for the free and reduced lunch program are available online at www.acpsfood.com. Paper applications can be picked up at the schools.

Eunice said online applications will be processed within 72 hours, but after October the turnaround will only be 24 hours. However, it takes up to 10 days to process paper applications. Students who participated in the free and reduced lunch program last year have a 30-day grace period beginning with the first day of school. However, Eunice recommends applying now to avoid the chance of changing to a pay status.

Although parents can pay for meals online or by check or cash, Eunice said the online prepay option is the most efficient and is available by visiting www.MyLunchMoney.com. On this site, parents can view meals their child purchased during the week and also set daily or weekly spending limits for their child. Parents also can auto-select "meals only" and/or "a la carte meals."

Parents can view daily breakfast and lunch menus and even click on individual menu items to get a picture of what the food item looks like along with nutrition information. Go to www.acpsfood.com and click on "menus."

"Online prepay options enable parents to keep track of their student's meal account and eating habits anytime at www.MyLunchMoney.com," said Eunice, adding that parents who don't use the prepay option can track their student's account and eating habits by asking the cafeteria manager for a printout.

Eunice said new meal requirements call for at least 51 percent of whole grain products each week.

"Half of our grains have to be 51 percent or better whole grain to meet requirements, but we're far exceeding that," said Eunice, adding that next year the requirement will be 100 percent whole grains.

The lunch menu includes meat, grain, milk, fruit and vegetable, while the breakfast menu includes milk, grain, fruit and protein.

Eunchil McKenna, dietitian for the district, said the requirement remains the same for fruits and vegetables, legumes, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, cucumbers, green beans, onions, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, lima beans, green peas, corn, black beans, kidney beans, lentils and others. "Every kid for lunch has to pick a fruit or veggie or they can have both," Eunice said. "They have to take at least three food items at lunch and breakfast to be considered a full meal."

Eunice said students have a voice in what is offered on the menu. She said new food items undergo a taste test by students selected at random at each school.

For the fourth consecutive year, Eunice said students at Duval, Lake Forest, Metcalfe and Rawlings elementary schools and Caring and Sharing Learning School, a charter school, will benefit from a federally funded initiative that provides fresh fruit and vegetable snacks delivered to the classroom from Tuesday through Friday each week during the 2013-2014 school year.

"We offer fresh fruits and vegetables in season and exotic," said Eunice, adding that raw fruit and vegetables will include guava, papaya, starfruit, snap peas, kiwi, pomegranate, plums, apricots, strawberries, spinach salad, avocado, watermelon and radishes. In addition to the food, students also will receive nutrition information with a description of the food, how to cut it, what part to eat and other information.

McKenna said parents and students are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions as to what they'd like to see offered in food services.

"We would like to hear what you want to see," McKenna said. "We really want to hear from students and parents."

Email and telephone information for food service staff also is available by visiting www.acpsfood.com and clicking on "Contact Us."

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