New Hanover County Schools
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the debit policy?
In our cafeterias, a debit card system is used for collecting money.  This system is designed  to establish accounts for all students to identify them correctly as they reach the cashier.  This ensures that students are recorded properly as receiving free, reduced or full pay meals.

The computer-based system also keeps a record of all transactions by assigned account numbers so account balances can be monitored.   Additionally, the debit card system is used to track prepaid accounts for those customers that pay in advance. 

The system also allows students to charge if they arrive at the cashier station without money in hand or on their account.  Charges are allowed as a service for K-8 children and parents.  Charges will not be allowed to exceed $10.00.  No charging is allowed for grades 9 - 12.  When student charges reach  $10.00, a bill will be mailed home as a reminder.  

What are the prices of the meals?

MEAL PRICES

(effective July 1, 2013)

GRADE LEVEL

BREAKFAST LUNCH
Pre-K $ 1.25 $ 1.95
K-12 $ 1.25 $ 2.25
REDUCED PAY STUDENT (All Grades) $  0.00 $    .40
Adults A la carte A la carte

MILK ONLY             $  .50

A LA CARTE PRICES AVAILABLE IN CAFETERIA

A COMPLETE LUNCH INCLUDES ONE ENTREE, CHOICE OF 2 VEGETABLES AND/OR FRUITS, BREAD AND CHOICE OF MILK.

A VARIETY OF MILK IS AVAILABLE AT LUNCH & BREAKFAST.

*MODIFIED MENUS FOR SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS ARE AVAILABLE WITH A COMPLETED DIET ORDER FORM FROM A PHYSICIAN OR RECOGNIZED MEDICAL AUTHORITY.

Are children allowed to charge meals?
Children in Grades pre-K through 8 are allowed to charge meals only up to $10.00.  Students are not allowed to charge a la carte items such as ice cream.   Bills will be sent home with students or mailed to the household once charges reach $10.00.   Students cannot buy a la carte items when they owe a balance on their accounts.  Any monies will be applied toward unpaid charges and change from future cash sales will also be applied toward the unpaid charges.

The school Principal will be given a balance due report.

Does the Child Nutrition Department cater Board of Education functions?
Yes.  The Child Nutrition Department has two staff members who cater many functions ranging from formal dinners to breakfast meetings.  Contact Christine Margus at 254-4147 or  christine.margus@nhcs.net for further information or to book your next event.  We are restricted to catering Board of Education related functions.
Are parents allowed to bring food items into school?
Yes, but as a general rule only baked goods such as cookies and cake products may be prepared at home and served at school. Other potentially hazardous food items cannot be prepared at home and served to students.  However, party trays purchased from a commercial licensed facility will be allowed.  Cafeteria managers will store perishable foods  purchased from a commercial licensed facility for a short period of time - not to exceed  the day of the event.  Foods prepared in a domestic setting cannot be served in a school kitchen.  Also, donated potentially hazardous foods will not be accepted for use in school fund-raising activities.  It is recommended that these items be purchased through the school cafeteria.  It is also recommended that parents contact our catering  department (910-254-4147) and make arrangements to cater your next event whether it is for the classroom or for fundraising.  It is further recommended that only healthy snacks be used to celebrate birthdays, etc.
How do you determine what is served or sold in the school lunchroom?
The Child Nutrition Department complies with all federal and state guidelines pertaining to the National School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.  All  menus are analyzed for their nutritional content to ensure that all meals have no more than 35% of calories from fat and less than 10% calories from saturated fat.  At the elementary level all items sold as a la carte contain less than 35%  calories from fat, less than 10% from saturated fat and no more than 35% sugar added by weight. 
Why do children have to take extra items even if they don't plan on eating them?
The USDA requires children to take complete meals in order for Child Nutrition to receive reimbursement.  Those meals must meet 1/4 of the nutrient needs for breakfast and 1/3 of  the nutrient needs for lunch.  Therefore, students must choose 3 of the 4 items offered at breakfast and at least 3, 4,or 5 of the items at lunch for it to be considered a complete meal.
Is there any way to get the nutritional analysis of food items?
The Nutritionist in Child Nutrition can provide information on the daily and weekly menu analysis upon request.  You can also find carbohydrate counts on the website under "nutritional information."
Do school meals cause childhood overweight and obesity?
The causes of childhood overweight and obesity are complex and multi-factored:  parent eating behaviors, lack of exercise, increased TV, video game and computer time, increased  advertising to kids, etc.  Before children reach their second birthday, many American children are developing the same eating habits that plague the nation's adults; too much fat, sugar and salt and too few fruits and vegetables.  Schools have to meet the USDA meal guidelines for 35% or less total fat and 10% or less saturated fats.
 
New Hanover Child Nutrition has:
  • Eliminated fried foods in elementary and middle schools
  • Decreased fat, and increased fiber
  • Purchased more whole wheat food items.
  • Maintain the USDA requirements on all food items, including a la carte items. 
 83% of a child's meals are eaten with their parents.
Are schools required to make menu substitutions for children who cannot eat  the regular breakfast or lunch?
Federal law and the regulations for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast program require schools to make accommodations for children who are unable  to eat the school meal as prepared because of a disability.  In order to make substitutions for items in reimbursable meals, the school must have on file a written statement  signed by a licensed physician indicating what the child's disability is, what foods must be omitted and what foods must be substituted.  The purpose of requiring a written statement is two-fold.  First, it ensures that the nutrition integrity of the school meal will not be comprised by the substitution.  More importantly, it ensures that decisions about specific food substitutions are made by persons who are highly qualified to prescribe them.  
How do I get meal substitutions or special nutritional needs met for my child?
You may obtain a Diet Order from the school nurse or on our website (nhcs.net/childnutrition).  The Diet Order must be completed by your child's doctor each year and turned in to the cafeteria manager or Child Nutrition Services.  Once the completed order is received, the Nutritionist in Child Nutrition Services will give instructions to the cafeteria manager and contact the parents as needed.
Why do you serve flavored milk at school?
USDA requires 1% milk and a variety of milks be offered at all meals.  Studies have found that students who drank flavored milk had higher intakes of milk and calcium and they drank fewer soft drinks and sweetened fruit drinks than students who didn't drink flavored milk.  Researchers have found that the choice of flavored milk is far superior to another beverage that is totally void of other nutrients.  Flavored low-fat milk is proven to be a nutritious choice to help combat calcium deficiencies among children.
Are students allowed unlimited portions of food at breakfast and lunch?
No, students are entitled to one meal at breakfast and one meal at lunch from the Offer versus Serve meal patterns.  Additional food items or second meals may be purchased at a la carte prices.
Can I receive a reimbursement of the money on my child's account?
Reimbursement of money on accounts will be honored only when students are leaving the New Hanover County School system.  Reimbursements will be made of balances below $10.00 at the cafeteria.  Refunds for more than $10.00 are made by check and take a minimum of three weeks for processing.  When your child transfers to another New Hanover County school, the money on his/her account will be transferred to the cafeteria at that school. 
Can teachers or other school personnel restrict what a child selects from foods offered in the cafeteria?
No, what a child selects is a decision made by the child and their parents.
May school lunch be withheld or restricted as a discipline method?
No, the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 prohibits school     food authorities from denying a meal to any eligible child as a disciplinary measure. 
Why should I complete the Application for Free and Reduced Priced Meals?
The form allows students from eligible households to receive free or reduced-priced meals throughout the school year.  In addition, the forms are the basis for claiming and distributing important funding from the state and federal governments for your child's school.
Who can get Free or Reduced Price meals?
Children in households receiving Food Stamps or TANF/WFFA can get free meals regardless of household income.  If your household is within the limits on the Federal Income Chart, your children can receive free or reduced-price meals.  A foster child or child living in a group home may be eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals regardless of household income.
How do I apply for my child?
Complete the Family Meal Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals.  You only need to complete one application per household.  Incomplete applications cannot be processed and will be returned to you. 
Where do I send my completed application?
You may return completed applications to your child's school or mail to New Hanover County Schools, Child Nutrition Department, 1802 S. 15th Street, Wilmington , NC  28401.  Meal applications will be processed by the Child Nutrition Office.  You will be notified by mail after your child's application has been processed.
Will the information on the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Application be checked?
Yes, we may ask you to send written proof of the information given.
If I don't qualify now, may I apply later?
Yes, you may apply for free or reduced price meals anytime during the school year.  If you are not eligible now, but have a change in your household status, like a decrease in household income, an increase in household size, become unemployed or get food stamps, TANF or WFFA for your child, complete an application at that time. 

If a student consistently does not bring meal money, may the student be placed on free meal benefits? 
No, Free or Reduced-Price meal benefits are to be granted through the appropriate meal application process or Direct Certification.
If a class decides to have a Pizza Party instead of eating in the cafeteria, is this legal?
No, Federal and State regulations prohibit this even if the food is being donated and no child is charged for the meal.  Child Nutrition Services must operate all food and beverage services during meal time.  Please contact Child Nutrition Services for planning special event meals.