Requirements and Menu Planning
We are required to meet certain standards for school lunches in order to be approved for funding by the USDA. While we must offer specific food items every day, we also have to meet the needs of our students. We believe that no matter how nutritionally balanced the meal, it won't do any good if our students won't eat it! For that reason, we strive to balance student requests and federal requirements.
Full School Meal
While we only require three items on each tray, one specific item (1/2 cup of a fruit or vegetable, or a combination of both) must be on the tray in order for the lunch to count as a full meal, per the USDA. As long as the 1/2 cup of fruit or veggie is on the tray, the other items can be from any other components. For example, a fruit, chicken patty and bun would be considered a full meal.
Oregon School District receives reimbursement from the USDA for full meals served. In addition, this requirement provides your child the benefit of having a balanced meal if all five components are eaten. We strongly encourage a full tray because children learn best when they are fed and healthy!
Ala carte items are any items that are not a full meal. If your child chooses milk and a chicken sandwich, it is not considered a full meal and the account will be charged the Ala Carte price, which is a higher price than the Full School Meal because there is no reimbursement to OSD for partial meals.
If you prefer that your child does not purchase Ala carte items, you may place a block on your child's account. To do so, please click HERE.
Our menus provide the following:
- One-third (1/3) of the daily calories needed for school-age children.
- A little more than 30 percent of calories from fat.
- Guideline amounts of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
Our menus are planned using components and portion sizes specified by USDA.
- For K-4th grades, we offer 1-1/2 -2 ounces protein, 3/4 cup vegetable, 3/4 cup fruit, 1-2 ounces grain, and 8 ounces milk every day.
- For 5th-8th grades, there are larger servings of protein, vegetables or fruits
- For 9th-12th grades, we offer more protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
For all, we follow “offer vs. serve” guidelines, which means students are allowed to decline up to two of the five items offered at lunch. While we strongly encourage students to take something from all give components, we never force children to take or eat anything they do not want.
Per Federal regulations, a complete meal has at least three items; two (or more) items are the student's choice and one item must be at least 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetable, chosen from our daily variety. We encourage children to make healthy choices from the options given them, and believe that when they make the choice, they will eat.
We also offer all students (from K-12th grade) choices every day. While this may seem like a lot for younger students, we believe the best way to learn how to make good choices is to be allowed to make them at an early age. Each day students have a choice from the following:
- Two to six entrees (depending on the grade)
- Two vegetables
- One canned fruit
- Three to five fresh fruits
- Skim, 1% white, or 1% chocolate milk.
We try to offer a variety of foods that will appeal to many different ages and tastes. We have found that most children have already developed their food preferences by the time they attend school. Some are willing to try something new, others are not. It takes about 15 times of trying a new food before people realize they like something new. If students recognize something at school that they eat at home, they are more willing to try it at school.
Did You Know?
- The School lunch program began in the 1940’s as a matter of National Security when many of our young men could not pass their army physical due to malnutrition.
- The USDA Food program was initiated to help farmers who could not sell all of their crops at market.
- The same food products you buy at the grocery store are often the same commodity items we use. The amount of food we receive from the commodity program is based upon the number of students to whom we served lunch during the previous school year.
- School lunch program funding does not come from property taxes. Most of our revenue comes from the school lunches that we sell and via ala carte programs.
- Federal funding for child nutrition programs is included in the annual agriculture appropriations bill. Generally more than $10 billion, 50 percent comes from general revenues (taxes) and the other 50 percent from Section 32 of the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1935, which allocates 30 percent of all import duties to the Ag. Department.