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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the National School Lunch Program work?

The Child Nutrition Program is reimbursed for meals they serve.

School systems that choose to take part in the National School Lunch Program receive cash subsidies and donated commodities from USDA for each meal they serve. In return, they are required to serve lunches that meet Federal requirements and they must offer free or reduced price meals to eligible children. 


How do children qualify for free and reduced-price meals?

It is based on their household income in relation to the poverty level income.

Typically, at the beginning of each school year, letters and meal applications are distributed to households of children attending school. This letter informs households that school nutrition programs are available and that free and reduced price meals are available based on income criteria. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals.

The Wilcox County Child Nutrition Program applied and was approved for Community Eligibility benefits beginning the 2014-2015 school year. The economic status of our county qualified us for these benefits whereby all students enrolled in our system, regardless of financial status, are allowed to eat free of charge


Am I required to complete an application for free and reduced meals?

No

No, students attending the schools in Wilcox County are not required to complete a free and reduced application.

Beginning the School Year 2014-2015, the Wilcox County Schools participate in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) whereby all students, regardless of financial status, are allowed to eat free of charge. The CEP allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free, nutritious school meals to all students through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications.


Do students have to take everything that is offered on the menu?

Students must take at least 3 of the 5 items offered.

All schools in Wilcox County practice Offer vs. Serve. This means that students must take at least 3 of the 5+ food groups offered in a food-based lunch or at least 3 of the 4+ items offered in a food-based breakfast. The Child Nutrition Program receives monetary subsidies for all reimbursable meals served. In order for a student's meal to qualify for reimbursement, the student must take 1 serving of either fruit or vegetable plus 2 servings from the other food groups. The cashier will instruct the student to go back and pick up additional item(s) if they do not have a qualified reimbursable meal.


What are the nutritional requirements for school breakfast?

A school breakfast provides 1/4 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's).

School breakfasts must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 percent of an individual's calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school breakfast to provide 1/4 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories. 


What are the nutritional requirements for school lunches?

School lunches provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA).

School meals must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 percent of an individual's calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school lunches to provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories


Why have the adult meal prices increased so much?

Federal regulations require an increase in adult meal prices.

When a system participates in a non-pricing program (allowing all students to eat free of charge) as Wilcox County now does, the formula for minimum adult meal prices is based on the amount of revenue received for a free child, plus the value of USDA donated commodities. In previous years, prices were based on the amount received for a full price student, plus the value of USDA donated commodities.

The total minimum amounts have been rounded up to the next quarter for ease of making change on the lines during meal time. Thus, beginning the 2015-2016 school year adult lunches will be $3.50 and adult breakfasts will be $2.25. Although we do regret having to make these price increases, these prices are still a good value for a meal in comparison to off-campus prices for meals.


What restrictions are there on what I can pack in my child's lunch box.

Parents are not restricted on what they provide for their own child.

Parents are encouraged to provide nutritious foods if they choose to send meals from home. Eating nutritionally balanced meals will help children both to stay healthy now and to prevent many chronic diseases as they mature into adulthood. Good nutrition is also essential for your child to perform well in school. Although, the wellness policy does not restrict what parents may provide for their own child's breakfast, lunch or snack, they may not provide food of minimal nutritional value to other children at school during the school day. However, an individual school may adopt a more restrictive policy and limit the items that a child may bring to school. It is best to check with your school for individual policies.