Over the last several years, families have asked District 58 to implement a lunch option for elementary students. Recently, the District sent out a survey to all elementary families to gauge interest in a temporary program. The survey results indicated that there is a desire in our school communities to offer lunch.
To meet the needs of our families, the District is piloting a packaged lunch program (i.e. a box lunch) for elementary students. The pilot program will be a packaged lunch because our elementary schools are not yet equipped to provide hot lunch. The referendum calls for new and expanded kitchens in our middle schools. Once the new kitchens are complete and improvements are made to our elementary schools, we plan on offering hot lunch at all schools. This process will take several years and the pilot program to be rolled out this year is intended to be short-term while we undergo construction.
You will receive an email later this week from the District with details on setting up an account to order meals for your elementary student(s). In that email will be a link to log into the online ordering system along with information on the ordering schedule, cost and menu information. Elementary families can order a meal for their child for 1-5 days, which will be delivered to their child’s school. We will start the pilot program on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.
What about Fun Lunch?
All elementary schools offer a “fun lunch” sponsored by our PTAs. Fun Lunch will continue during the pilot program as our elementary schools are not part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
NSLP versus Non-NSLP
The details of state and federal guidelines and limits of the NSLP, which dates back decades, are complex. The District currently participates in the NSLP at the two middle schools, and receives reimbursement for some of the costs. The District currently is not under the program at the elementary schools. Once the pilot is up and running, we will explore the NSLP option as well. There is normally a price difference between the NSLP format and non-NSLP options. There are pros and cons to being part of the NSLP. The District will closely examine this prior to making any final recommendations and decisions. One concern that we have heard from our families is that Fun Lunch would not be permitted for elementary schools under the NSLP because nothing is allowed to compete with the federal program.
Feedback and Review of the Pilot Program
The District will monitor the pilot program via its Financial Advisory Council and the Board of Education. The District will determine in February or March the next steps regarding the food service for the school year 2024-2025 as well as the pilot program. Additionally, we will send out a survey on Nov. 27, 2023, regarding the pilot program to determine if any adjustments need to be made. The District intends to run the pilot program for the remainder of the school year as long as it is financially feasible. We intend to survey families throughout the pilot process so we can get a good sense of whether it should continue next school year. Again, we intend to offer hot lunch as soon as our buildings and kitchens are able to do so following construction.