School Food & Nutrition Program - Policies, Regulations & Program Mission
The mission of the School Food and Nutrition Program ("SFNP") is to provide for the nutritional needs of children and to foster their nutrition knowledge. The program’s purpose is to serve children -- to prepare them to learn, nurture their growth and develop an awareness of the link between nutrition and well-being.
What guidelines are followed?
The program is governed by federal (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and state (NYS Department of Education) regulations, as well as policies that the local Board of Education has established.
What services are provided by the program?
- Nutritious breakfasts and lunches are served daily. Daily breakfast choices include assorted cold cereals, bagels, rolls, fresh fruit, juice and milk. Student breakfast price is $1.50. Daily lunch selections include a choice of at least three entrees, main dish salads, fresh fruit, vegetables, juice and milk. Student lunch price is $3.00. Snack items such as hot pretzels, popcorn, yogurt and cookies are also available. Monthly menus are sent home with elementary students.
- "Paws A While" catering service is operated by the program. Proceeds from this catering service support the program, which is vital to the growth and overall health of children.
- Satellite meal service is provided to local day care centers, preschool and after-school programs. A summer program provides breakfasts, lunches and snacks to local summer camps, civic organizations, Youth Bureau and Recreation Department.
- The program also assists with fund raising activities for school organizations. (Federal regulations prohibit competitive food sales during the school day.)
How much does it cost to prepare a student lunch?
The average school lunch costs about $2.85 to prepare and serve. This cost includes labor, paper cleaning supplies, food and miscellaneous program expenses.
How can meals be sold for a price much lower than the cost?
Federal, state and local funds are received for every student meal. This makes up the difference between what the meal costs and what the student pays. The program goal is to keep the meal price affordable for students and encourage their participation in the program.
How can families with limited income participate in the program?
Applications for free and reduced price meals are available in school offices. Applications must be completed each year. Applications can be completed anytime during the school year; during the month of September, students can use last year’s free and reduced meal status. After October 15th, however, students must have a current school year application on file in order to receive free or reduced meals.
Why should children buy lunch at school rather than bring it from home?
There are several good reasons why students should participate in our program:
- Regulations assure that children receive nutritionally balanced meals.
- School meals are planned and prepared to reduce salt, fat and sugar in the diet, in keeping with US Dietary Guidelines.
- The subsidized school lunch is less expensive than lunch of equal nutritional value prepared and packaged at home.
- A hungry child, and one who is not receiving proper nutrition, cannot learn well. The State of Minnesota Breakfast Study (1997) found that students who ate breakfast had a general increase in math and reading scores, increased attention, reduced nurse visits, and improved behavior. Good nutrition is critical to student achievement!
- Students learn good nutrition habits that provide a basis for better health throughout their lives.
Who plans the school menus?
Menus are planned by the program director, and meals reflect the preferences of the school community. In addition, menus are reviewed by students, school managers and adult advisory board members, which includes parents.
Can schools serve any foods they want?
No, menus must meet the "School Breakfast and Lunch Meal Patterns" as established by the USDA. Meals are planned with the goal of providing students with one third of their Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for key nutrients and calories. In addition, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines are followed.
How can the special dietary needs of children be met?
Special meals can be prepared for children upon the receipt of a doctor’s diet order.
How are adults and students involved in the program?
Schools can have adult representatives who attend monthly advisory board meetings. In addition, most schools have student advisory committees that meet with the program director, program manager, faculty members and parents to discuss program issues.
Do SFNP employees assist with education?
Yes, the program director has access to many food and nutrition resources. The director and advisory board publish Eatcetera articles for PTA newsletters. These articles provide parents with up-to-date nutrition information. The director is available to visit classrooms to discuss the program or related issues. In addition, the program managers welcome classes into the kitchen for demonstrations and tours. The managers prepare ethnic meals and participate in school events.
How is food safety ensured?
Managers are required to be certified in sanitation by the Westchester County Health Department. Sanitation inservice programs are offered to all employees yearly. All schools are licensed by the Westchester County Health Department.
What financial management techniques are used to monitor the program?
Each school has a yearly budget. A profit and loss statement is prepared monthly to analyze each school’s financial status. "Meals prepared per worker hour" and "percent student participation" are calculated monthly. The director works with the Assistant Superintendent of Business and program managers in monitoring the financial status of the program.
Can anyone be involved in the program?
An active Food and Nutrition Advisory Board assists with menu preparation, program marketing, and nutrition education activities. Anyone interested in being a member of this vital group should contact his/her PTA president. Additionally, student advisory committees assist with program marketing, menu development, menu item analysis and acceptability.
Can I help in the School Food and Nutrition Program?
If you are interested in becoming involved with the program, contact your PTA president or the program director at 914-422-2054.