When it comes to feeding their children, there is a lot parents need to know in the coming school year.
Stephenville ISD Child Nutrition Director Mona Little said the district works to make sure no child is left hungry, but parents need to remain aware of what their children are eating, the balance in their cafeteria accounts and the cost of purchasing meals throughout the school year.
Following a recent federal mandate, SISD board of trustees voted to increase the cost of lunch to $2.50 per student at each of the district's six campuses.
"To get a full, nutritious meal, served by campus cafeterias, every student who is not on a free or reduced plan will be required to pay $2.50 per day," Little said. See accompanying box for complete meal pricing.
With hundreds of mouths to feed, funding lunches for children who forget to come with money could quickly become a financial disaster, so Little said each student will only be allowed two credits to their accounts. Children without a fund balance will be provided a sack lunch until funds are deposited.
"Cafeteria managers will send letters home with students when their accounts are low," Little said. "The problem - especially with older kids - is those letters don't always make it home to parents."
To keep track of your child's spending and deposit funds securely online, www.mynutrikids.com can be accessed from any computer.
The website also allows parents to monitor their children's eating habits. Three campuses - Gilbert Intermediate, Henderson Junior High and Stephenville High School - offer snack bar dining, and a la carte dining can quickly drain accounts.
"The website gives parents the advantage of knowing what their children are buying and how much they are spending to better manage their budgets," Little said.
Balances can also be monitored by calling Child Nutrition at 968-4826.
Little said there are many misconceptions surrounding school lunches, including the assumption that meals are packed full of sodium and fat.
"In actuality, everything school cafeterias serve are regulated and approved by the state," Little said. "Nothing is fried, everything - even the potato chips - are baked and low fat, including the milk and ice cream."
For many children, breakfast and lunch are the most nutritious meals they get all day.
"We want to make sure they are getting what their bodies need, not foods that are bad for them," Little said.
Menus are available online by visiting the district's website, www.sville.us.