We are pleased to announce that, beginning on the first day of school, lunch is free to all students in all of our schools, regardless of income eligibility. This means that all meals – both breakfast and lunch – served by the Department of Education’s SchoolFood program will be at no cost to families.
This announcement builds on the City’s effort to improve the atmosphere and experience for students in our school cafeterias.
The expansion of free meal service will also make your job easier:
- Reporting: You will only need to report the total meals served. Schools which have the electronic point of sale (POS) installed must continue to use the system.
- Cash Collection: You will no longer collect payment from any student. Payment for adult/teacher meals is still required. Please ensure that all funds for school meals collected from previous years is remitted to OSSS Finance.
- Parents of students at POS schools who have already added money to their MySchoolBucks accounts to pay for lunch during the 2017-18 school year, and those who have a balance remaining from prior years, will receive a refund of those funds. DOE will provide more details on the refund process in coming weeks.
School Meal Applications/Income Eligibility
Although lunch will now be served at no charge to students, you must still ensure that your staff collects School Meals Applications from all families. Parents can either fill out the paper form you have received already or use the online application. Your school’s Title I eligibility and funding for the 2018–19 school year is dependent on this information. Please ensure that all forms are gathered and returned to SchoolFood before December 29, 2017.
Please note that although the School Meals Application states the cost of a full priced lunch is $1.75, it includes a letter explaining the Universal School Meals (USM) program, its importance to qualifying families, and that meals will be served at no cost to families regardless of income eligibility. In future years, a new form which does not include reference to the cost of lunch will be used to gather this information for Title I eligibility.
As always, your on-site SchoolFood staff will be available for further guidance.
We need your help communicating to parents the importance of returning these forms. Students will be served a free lunch even if they have not completed a form, but you might receive less funding or lose Title I eligibility altogether if very few parents turn in the form.
Please backpack this letter available in 10 languages to inform your students, families, and school communities that lunch is now free for all students in every school. You can also print out this flyer to promote the free meals in your school.
If you have questions regarding the initiative, please contact School Food at 718-707-4300.