Can schools serve any foods they want?

Menus must meet school lunch program meal pattern requirements. Lunches are planned with a goal of providing students with one-third of their recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for key nutrients and calories. Breakfasts are planned with the goal of providing students with one-fourth of their recommended dietary allowances.

Healthy Changes in 2014-2015

The Oshkosh Area School District cafeterias are meeting federal nutrition standards for school meals, ensuring that meals are healthy and well-balanced and provide students all the nutrition they need to succeed at school.  Now is a great time to encourage your kids to choose school lunch!

School meals offer students milk, fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains, and they must meet strict limits on total calories, sodium, saturated fat and portion size.  Starting in School Year 2014-2015, school lunches had to meet additional standards requiring:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits
  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits (students must take at least one serving of produce)
  • A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
  • Fat-free or 1% milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
  • More whole grains
  • And less sodium

What are school lunch program meal pattern requirements?

                                                     Grades K-5      Grades 6-8         Grades 9-12

                                         Weekly (daily)  Weekly (daily)      Weekly (daily)

Meat or meat alternate
               8-10 (1)          9-10 (1)            10-12 (2)

Grain/Bread                              8-9 (1)            8-10 (1)            10-12 (1)

Vegetables                             3 3/4 c (3/4 c)   3 3/4 c (3/4 c)     5 c (1 c)

Fruits                                    2 1/2 c (1/2 c)   2 1/2 c (1/2 c)     5 c (1 c)

Milk                                            5 c (1 c)       
5 c (1 c)              5 c (1 c) 
Calories                                   550-650            600-700            750-850

For a more detailed description of the meal pattern, go to: 

Aren’t school lunches starchy?

Carbohydrates (starch) and fats are the major sources of energy in the American diet. Nutritionists recommend that Americans increase their intake of complex carbohydrates (starch) and decrease their intake of fats. Calories from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, also add fiber to the diet. The Oshkosh Area School District limits simple carbohydrates (sugar) and replaces desserts with fresh fruits as often as possible. School lunch is designed for growing students; it may provide excess calories for adults.

What about the vegetables that are often not appealing to school-age children?

School-age children often do not like and thus do not eat many vegetables and fruits. This can lead to a deficiency in many nutrients, especially vitamins A and C. For this reason, schools are required to serve fruits and vegetables rich in these two vitamins two to three times a week. The school district serves a variety of such food items so children will be more likely to find one they will eat.

Do schools get USDA Foods?

Yes. USDA foods are allocated to and ordered by the school district, depending on their availability. USDA foods range from meat items, such as ground beef, chicken and cheese, to fruit and vegetables, such as corn and sliced pears. The only cost incurred by the school district is for delivery and storage.

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is charged with administering the Food Distribution Program. Through the Food Distribution Program, the USDA purchases foods through direct appropriations from Congress and, through the Food Distribution Program, the USDA purchases foods through direct appropriations from Congress and under surplus-removal and price-support activities. The foods are distributed to state agencies for use by eligible local outlets, including schools.

How much of the USDA Food's does the school district receive?

The school district is allotted a set amount of most items each year. This total generally amounts to about 10 percent of the meal cost.

How much does it cost the school district to prepare a student lunch?

The average student lunch costs about $2.43 to prepare and serve, including the value of donated commodities in the meal.

How can lunch be sold to students for a price much lower than the cost?

The Nutrition Program receives federal and state funds for every student meal served. This reimbursement makes up the difference between what the lunch costs to produce and what the student pays. The amount of federal reimbursement paid per lunch depends on the economic need of the student.

Are meals priced as a unit or are the food items priced separately?

A balanced meal provides essential nutrients. Omitting foods, such as vegetables and fruits, may lead to undernourishment and poor school performance. Buying the meal as a unit encourages students to accept and eat the complete meal.  The program does encourage students who bring a cold lunch to purchase fruits and vegetable from the program at a minimal cost for a 1/2 cup serving.

Why should my child buy lunch at school rather than bring it from home?

The school lunch ensures that your child is receiving a nutritionally balanced meal. More variety (an established dietary guideline) is easier to achieve through school menus. Also, the subsidized school lunch is less expensive than a lunch of equal nutritional value prepared and packed at home.

Are there other advantages to my child’s participating in the school lunch program?

Students learn good nutrition habits that provide a basis for better health throughout their lives. The Nutrition Program contain a variety of foods and offer students exposure to new foods. The better-nourished student will generally have better attendance, be more attentive, and have more energy to cope with school-day opportunities.

Oshkosh West High School

375 N. Eagle St.

Oshkosh, WI 54902

If you have questions or need help completing the application, please call Food Service Office at (920) 424-4936.