Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)



Why have our menus changed, and why do we have all these vegetables offered?

Under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012, The USDA put into place new menu planning guidelines for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. These guidelines state that ALL meals must include a fruit or vegetable. Under offer vs serve, (meaning students are able to select their menu items) in the National School Lunch Program, a student must take at least 3 components in the required serving sizes, but may take up to five of the components. One of those selections MUST be 1/2 cup from either the fruit or vegetable component. These components are as follows: fruits, vegetables, grains, meats or meat alternates, and milk. Vegetable components are now broken down into types of vegetables and minimum amounts of each type must be served each week. 

What is a reimbursable meal?

 A single priced meal that offers all of the USDA daily required meal pattern components for each age/grade group served in the minimum required amounts. Quantities vary by age/grade group, but components remain constant and necessary for all student meals claimed for reimbursement.

What happens if a student does not want to pick up the minimum required meal components for a USDA reimbursable meal?

Student meals that do not meet the USDA requirements are not reimbursable as Free, Reduced-price or Student Paid price. Students are encouraged to select a complete reimbursable meal, but if they refuse the individual items on the plate must be charged as an a la carte purchase. The a la carte prices are higher than regular student meal prices because they are not subsidized by the USDA.

Why do the meal prices seem to go up every year? 

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act addresses the Equity in School Lunch Pricing.  The law requires School Food Authorities to set paid meals prices so that the total paid meal price and the paid reimbursement equal the amount of funding provided for Free meals. As a result of this new regulation, we have developed a plan to comply with the current regulation. Non program food items such as adult meals and a la carte sales must also be priced at a rate that covers their cost with non-program revenues.

Why do  Staff, adults, and visitors pay more for a tray than the students?

Federal guidelines state that the adult meal must be priced so that it is sufficient enough to cover the cost of the meal. This is to include all  USDA entitlements and bonus commodities used to prepare the meal. All students, even Full Paid status students, receive federal reimbursement and commodities to subsidize the cost of their meals so that their meals cost less than staff, adults, or visitors.

What policy does Academy ISD follow for nutrition standards?

Academy ISD complies with the Healthy Hunger Free Kid act or HHFKA and the new federal Smart Snacks guidelines. Smart Snack guidelines, went into effect July 1st, 2014 and they limit calories, sugar, sodium, and fat for all food sold during the school day, including a la carte cafeteria sales, school stores, vending machines, and fundraisers. In addition, it does not allow the sale of foods, except those provided by school nutrition, any time, anywhere on the elementary school campuses. Food sales are also restricted on middle school premises from 30 minutes before to 30 minutes after meal periods. High schools cannot conduct food sales during meal periods where reimbursable meals are served or consumed.

How does the application process work, what about meals charged while my application is being reviewed?

Until the Free / Reduced applications are approved parents / guardians are responsible for any charges that are incurred during the application review process. The amount of time that is allowed to approve or deny an application varies from 1-10 working days depending on the time of year.  According to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Administrators' Reference Manual (ARM) Section 4.17  "Applications should be reviewed and an eligibility determination made within 10 operating days of receipt of the application.  For new participants who do not have previously approved applications on file from the previous year, applications should be processed immediately whenever possible."

How are school fundraisers affected by Smart Snack guidelines? 

Fundraisers must comply with the new Smart Snack guidelines, if the item is to be consumed during the school day. Items that are not compliant with the guidelines can still be sold and distributed, but only outside of the school day. Smart Snack guidelines define the school day as starting at midnight and ending 30 minutes after school.
Any food sold in schools must:
Be whole grain rich OR

Have either fruit, Vegetable, dairy, or protein as the first ingredient OR
Be a combination food with fruit or vegetable
Contains 10% daily value of calcium potassium vitamin d or dietary fiber.

If you ever have a question please feel free to contact your school cafeteria or
Heather Thies - Director of Child Nutrition (254) 982 - 0150 and ask for the cafeteria.