About School Meals
Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) provides meal services for our students. Lunch is offered at all schools, and brunch is available at all secondary schools, Escondido Elementary School and Barron Park Elementary School. Snacks or a la carte items are offered during brunch and lunch at secondary schools.
All students, including students on the Free and/or Reduced Price Meals Program, must pay full price for snacks (sold at secondary sites; some are not available at all sites).
- Meal Charges Policy / Póliza de cargo de comida
- School Breakfast Facts
- New School Nutrition Regulations
- Meal Integrity Plan
We have a preorder system in our elementary schools. Students who want to buy school lunch sign up on a sign up sheet, in class, before 9 am each morning. They go to the lunch area to pick up their lunches at lunch time. (Students need to sign up the day before for pizza.)
Students go to the cafeterias to select their choice of food items during brunch or lunch hours.
Ways to Pay for Meals
- Cash Method (Secondary only) - Students pay with cash or checks at time of purchase. (They can pay exact amount or an amount more than their purchase and the extra will get deposited into their accounts for future purchases.)
- Account Method - Money is deducted from a student's account each time a purchase is made, provided there is sufficient fund in the account.
Every student has a lunch account. It is simply his/her name or PAUSD student ID#
- Elementary School Students - The lunch server will deduct $4.75 from a student's account each time (s)he orders and picks up a lunch.
- Secondary School Students - Students enter their pin numbers in pin pads located next to cash registers and the purchase amount is deducted from their accounts. For your student's pin number, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650-329-3806.
Ways to Deposit Money Into an Account
- School sites - Give checks (payable to PAUSD) or cash (cash is not accepted at elementary school offices) to school offices or cafeterias.
- District Office - Give cash or checks in person or mail checks to the district office at 25 Churchill Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306. Please write your student's name or ID # on the check.
- Online - Open an account at sendmoneytoschool.com (call 616-842-8882) and charge to your credit card. There is a $3 fee per transaction for this service.
- Cash is not accepted at elementary school offices. We highly recommend parents to open an account. In addition to being able to make deposits online, you will be able to view your student's lunch activities and balance, transfer funds between accounts and set your own low balance reminder threshold. There is NO FEE to open an account.
The purpose of this policy is to insure compliance with federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program. This policy will provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances.
The intent of this policy is to establish procedures to address unpaid meal charges.
The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced school breakfast and lunch meals only - a la carte/snacks windows and second meals are not included. Palo Alto Unified School District provides this policy as a courtesy to households in the event that they forget to add money to their child's account.
Free Meal Benefit
Free eligible students will be allowed to receive one free breakfast and one free lunch each day. A la carte snack window items and second meals are not part of the USDA Child Nutrition Meal Reimbursement Program and are not included.
Reduced Meal Benefit
Reduced eligible students will be allowed to receive one complete breakfast for $0.30 and one complete lunch for $0.40 each day. If a student is without meal money, they will be allowed to charge their meal. The charge meals offered to students will be a choice from the same reimbursable meals that are available to all students. A la carte snack window items and second meals are not part of the USDA Child Nutrition Meal Reimbursement Program and are not included. Students' whose accounts are already negative and they attempt to get Ala Carte Snacks or Second Meals will be told that their account is not set up to charge for this. The goal is to minimize stigmatizing children with insufficient funds. Parents will be notified via email when their student's account goes into a negative balance. If a student is without meal money on a consistent basis, the School Office will investigate the situation more closely and take further action as needed.
Full Paid Students
Students will pay for meals at the school's published paid meal rate each day (Breakfast-all grade levels $3.00, Lunch Elementary $4.75, Lunch Secondary $5.00). If a student is without meal money, they will be allowed to charge their meal. The charge meals offered to students will be a choice from the same reimbursable meals that are available to all students. A la carte snack window items and Second Meals are not part of the USDA Child Nutrition Meal Reimbursement Program and are not included. Students' whose accounts are already negative and attempt to get a la carte snacks or second meals will be told that their account is not set up to charge for this. Parents will be notified via email when their student's account goes into a negative balance. The goal is to minimize stigmatizing children with insufficient funds. If a student is without meal money on a consistent basis, the School Office will investigate the situation more closely and take further action as needed. If financial hardship exists, parents and families are encouraged to apply for free or reduced priced lunches for their child, if applicable.
Parents/Guardians are responsible for meal payment to the food service program. Online payments are accepted as well as in-person payments to the School Office. Email notices of low or deficit balances are sent to parents/guardians weekly during the school year.
A great breakfast program is offered at Barron Park, Escondido at recess every day and all secondary sites daily!
Thanks to funding from the PAUSD School Board, the following elementary schools offer free breakfast to all students every morning at 7:15 am: Addison, Walter Hays, El Carmelo, Escondido, Barron Park, Fairmeadow and Briones.
Here are some fun facts about school breakfast:
- It’s easy! Instead of running around in the morning trying to make sure your children eat a healthy meal, let us do the work. They can get a great breakfast at school, and there will be no dishes for you to wash!
- It’s affordable! If qualified, your child may be able to get breakfast at a reduced price or for free. If your child already eats a free or reduced priced lunch, they automatically qualify for a free or reduced priced breakfast.
- It’s tasty! Schools now have more variety to choose from when deciding what to offer your children for breakfast. Request a menu so you can view what your child may be eating at school.
- It’s good for the brain! Research suggests that not having breakfast can affect children’s intellectual performance (CDC).
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
You may have heard about a change coming in school lunch this fall. It is true!
After much research on school meals, coupled with the recent release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2012, the USDA announced new government regulations that will substantially change school meal requirements for the first time in decades.
Here in the Palo Alto Unified School District, we began making similar changes to our menus a few years ago. Many of our menu items are now made with healthier ingredients such as whole grains.
Please take some time and revisit our menus as they offer new items such as soup, tortellini, fish tacos, etc. We have also been modifying recipes to include less sodium and saturated fat. Students will be offered foods from five food groups (grains, fruit, vegetable, protein, and dairy) and they must take at least 3 of the 5 menu items. In addition, they must always take at least half cup of a fruit or vegetable.
Please be proactive and talk with your child about the USDA ChooseMyPlate. We will use this identifier to try and help students put into practice the guidelines needed to help them build healthier meals. Visit USDA ChooseMyPlate for more information.
2020-21 Meal Integrity Plan and Meal Count and Collection Procedure During Covid 19 School Meal Service
Meals are offered to any child 18 years or younger. To make sure only reimbursable meals are served, every child is given an entree and either a fruit or vegetable. All required meal components are offered and all are served if requested.
Covid 19 Waivers
Waivers are in place and kept on file:
Non Congregate Feeding
Meal Service Times Flexibilities
Parent Pick up
A Site Monitoring Review (CDE Form SNP-25b for SSO) is completed at all sites that are serving meals. This review must be completed, at a minimum, during the first week of operation. The completed review form is kept on file. The Site Monitoring Review may be a desk audit but an in person audit is preferred.
A pre-operative review will be conducted by Child Nutrition Service one week prior to a site opening to make sure all cold and hot food storage equipment is in operating order, equipment temperature logs are onsite, and Justice for All Posters are posted at the meal service location. The Child Nutrition Service Leads will make sure the site has the menu, menu production records, and tally forms.
Staff training is conducted throughout the year that align with the Professional Standards requirement to include, but not limited to, production records, meal components, what constitutes a reimbursable meal, MCCP / Integrity Plan and food safety.
For bulk meals, food safety and heating instructions may be included with the meal kits and are available on the district's website.
Grab and Go Drive Through or Walk Through Meal Distribution
"And Justice for All" posters are clearly posted on the distribution table at the point of service. Parents, guardians, or their designee(s) are permitted to pick up meals for their child(ren):
- The Child Nutrition Service staff person greets the car, or person walking up; and in order to ensure program integrity they ask the customer:
- If any of the children are receiving meals at school
- If "yes", the meals are not tallied and thus not claimed for reimbursement for the day the student was at school.
- If they have picked up meals at any other distribution site
- If the answer is "yes" then additional meals are not given
- Staff enforce the 6' distancing rule to the greatest extent possible. Masks are worn at all times by school district staff. Signs are posted to remind customers to wear masks.
- Only reimbursable meals are given. The district has filed the Meal Pattern Waiver.
- The Child Nutrition Service staff tally the meal on the Meal Count Tally Form. Only meals for children 18 years and younger are tallied. Meals are not given for adults.
- At the end of meal distribution, the number of meals tallied are recorded at the bottom of the Meal Tally Form and the total is entered in the meal count spreadsheet by site.
- As a check and balance, the lunch entrée count is compared to the number of tallies. The two should match. If total entrée count is less than the total tally, the Child Nutrition Service Lead will indicate the reason.
- Bulk meals are distributed once a week following the planned menu and production record.
On Campus Students
- Child Nutrition Service staff will prepare meals as ordered by the site.
- The designated staff will tally the meals that are distributed to the on-site students or a check off roster may be used in lieu of the tally sheet
- The tally sheet or the check off roster is returned to the kitchen. Total meals given is input into spreadsheet. The tally or roster is forwarded to the child nutrition office to be kept as back up to the Claim for Reimbursement.
- Meals are for students only. No adult meals will be distributed.
- The total from the tally sheet of the on-site meals is recorded in the meal spreadsheet by date distributed by school site.
- The completed daily tally form and the day's production record is forwarded to the Child Nutrition Service office and is reconciled with the Google spreadsheets before the Claim for Reimbursement is filed.
Special Dietary Needs
PAUSD, to the best of our ability, makes menu accommodations for children with special dietary needs. Households are required to complete a Medical Statement to Request Special Meals and/or Meal Accommodations, which is posted online at the PAUSD website. The school nurse notifies Child Nutrition Service of any students with special dietary needs that are attending on campus so that accommodations can be made. For meals that are picked up at a distribution site, households can visit the district website to Request for Special Dietary Needs.
Claim for Reimbursement
Meal counts are automatically collated via a calculation on the Google monthly meal count sheet. Formulas on the sheet are locked so the automatic calculation cannot be accidentally altered.
At the Child Nutrition Service office, the tally sheet is compared to the meal count entered in the meal count spreadsheets. Discrepancies are corrected.
The spreadsheet with monthly totals is electronically saved in the Child Nutrition Service shared folder.
The designated Child Nutrition Service staff person files Claim for Reimbursement on a monthly basis. Meals are claimed for the month in which they are served.
To prevent overclaiming, an edit check of the onsite meals may be performed to compare meals served with attendance record of students that are onsite. In addition, production records are maintained and reviewed to make sure meal components are offered in line with the planned menu. Total entrees served are compared with the day's tally / roster. If total entrees served do not match the tally / roster, then the discrepancy is evaluated, and if necessary, the meals will be disallowed.
All menus, production records, tallies and rosters records, and meal count sheet that support the claim for reimbursement are retained for 4 years plus the current year.
Updating of CNIPS
The Child Nutrition Service Manager or designee is responsible for updating CNIPS site information. The Child Nutrition Service Manager or designee communicates with the CDE as needed. To include but not limited to the following:
- Site information changes such as operating sites, serving days, meal times, and meal types
- Posting the most current up to date MCCP / Integrity Plan
- Maintenance of supporting documents