Dear Mercer County Families,
Child nutrition programs have been essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring kids continued to get the nutrition they need. We understand the coming school year will be a significant transition for families as we return to pre-pandemic meal programs with paid, free, and reduced-priced eligibilities for students.
Schools had federal flexibilities during COVID so they could serve all kids free meals. Some of those options expired, so we can no longer serve all meals free anymore. Instead, families will do what they did before COVID. Schools will take applications and use family income to qualify kids for free, reduce-price, or paid meals. Free/reduced lunch applications are part of our online registration process or can be downloaded from our website under Food Service. https://www.mercerschools.org/food-service
Schools are also facing the same challenges many grocery stores and other places are having with getting all the food and supplies they need. When this happens, school nutrition professionals are doing everything they can to serve healthy meals to your child. Sometimes that means needing to swap out some foods for others because some foods are easier to get. Please be patient with the school nutrition professionals striving to serve our kids. They are committed to making sure our kids get the healthy meals they depend on.
School meals must meet strong nutrition standards, and we are continuing to work hard to serve students the nutritious, delicious meals they need to learn and grow.
Mercer County School District #404
Start your day off with Breakfast!
Breakfast is served at all 5 buildings beginning at approximately
Nondiscrimination: In the operation of USDA Child Nutrition programs, no child will be discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. If you feel you have been, please call (309) 582-2238.
Meal Prices 2022-2023
Meal Prices for 2022-2023 are as follows:
Lunch (High School) $2.70
Lunch (K-8) $2.45
Breakfast (K-12) $1.50
Adult Lunch $3.25
Adult Breakfast $2.00
Semester Milk $30
Meal Charge Procedure
When a student account reaches a $0 balance or below, a notice will be emailed to guardians who have current email addresses in the Teacherease System. These emails will be automatically generated weekly. Lunch balances are also displayed in the parent portal in Teacherease. Parents have the option to add money to their student’s accounts by credit/debit card.
When an account is negative, only reimbursable meals will be allowed. Purchases of ala carte items are not allowed unless there are funds in the student account. These items will be removed from the tray if there are no funds to cover the price.
This system is a debit system, not a credit system. Immediate payment is expected when the student balance is negative.
Meal assistance in the form of free or reduced price meals is available for both the breakfast and lunch programs. Applications are available on our website or at each building level.
A La Carte Pricing
A La Carte Prices are set using a calculation from the USDA and posted in the food lines.
The USDA requires that each School Food Authority limit competitive foods to encourage consumption of the reimbursable meals.The prices should be set high enough to encourage students to select the reimbursable school lunch or breakfast, and the price must recover all costs involved in the item including labor, overhead, paper supplies, value of USDA – donated foods used in preparation, and should reflect a profit on the item.
Smart Snacks in Schools
The USDA has established nutrition standards that took effect on July 1, 2014 that will impact ALL food and beverages SOLD to STUDENTS on the school campus during the school day including the following: A la carte in the cafeteria, vending machines and fund raiser food.
These new government mandates have forced us to eliminate several foods and change portion sizes and brands to make them compliant. Products can be checked for compliance at the link below.
Offer vs. Serve Explanation
National School Lunch Program
Mercer County School District is a participant in “Offer vs. Serve” in the National School Lunch Program. Offer vs. Serve allows students to decline some of the food offered in a reimbursable meal to reduce food waste by choosing the foods that they actually want to eat.
A reimbursable lunch menu consists of 5 offered components which are set by the new USDA meal pattern in certain varieties and portion sizes determined by student age.
Meat/Meat Alternate minimum
For a meal to be reimbursable, it must contain three of the five components, one of which MUST be a fruit or a vegetable component. (Before the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, there was not a specification on which components were chosen). If there aren’t enough components, the food items will have to be charged as “a la carte”, which is more expensive for the student, and not reimbursable as a “Free” or “Reduced” meal.
Students are allowed to decline 2 of 5 food components but must select at least ½ cup of either a fruit or vegetable.
Fruit or vegetable may be reduced to ½ planned portions. Students must select other food components in quantities planned.
If a student wishes to decline a specific menu item, they should let the server know before they plate up the food, otherwise, the full menu amount will be served. Hopefully this will allow students to take what they want and avoid food waste while still following the USDA guidelines for the Meal Pattern.