Universal Free School Meals
Nutritional Development Services (NDS) makes the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program available at no cost to Catholic, Charter, and other private schools throughout the five counties of southeastern Pennsylvania. Meals are available at no cost when schools enroll in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP). Congress created this program in the school year 2014-15 to provide equity among children during mealtime.
CEP increases access to healthy meals by eliminating the need for an annual household application based on family income. Parents no longer need to worry about packing a lunch because they know balanced meals are offered at no cost every day. Instead of collecting order envelopes several weeks in advance, students have the flexibility to decide each morning whether they will eat school lunch.
Without money collection and accounting, breakfast, and lunch managers are free to focus on preparing nutritious meals. CEP increases participation in breakfast and lunch across schools at every socio-economic level by providing equal access to healthy meals to all students.
About School Breakfast
School Breakfast provides a student with ¼ of their daily calories and key growth nutrients. A typical breakfast consists of a whole grain entrée such as an apple-cinnamon muffin, mini maple pancakes, cereal, or an egg & cheese bagel, a half-pint of low-fat or fat-free milk, and two servings of fruit, such as fresh fruit, applesauce, raisins, or 100% fruit juice. Students will see brand-name products that they would also see at the grocery store.
The School Breakfast program is very flexible and can be designed to meet the needs of individual schools based on factors related to morning schedules and routines, the physical layout of the school, enrollment size, and the ages of students.
About School Lunch
The School Lunch provides a student with 1/3 of their daily requirement for calories and key growth nutrients. It features whole grain-rich items, various fruits and vegetables, lean protein foods, and low-fat or fat-free milk. Lunch must also meet sodium and saturated fat limits to ensure they are healthy, based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Food companies make kid-friendly meals especially for schools in order to meet these guidelines. Meals are designed to meet the nutritional needs of students as they grow, providing larger portions to students in grades 9-12.
About Sponsorship with NDS
In addition to handling all of the regulatory, administrative, and logistical requirements of the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program on behalf of schools, NDS provides them with the equipment needed to store, cook, and serve the meals. This may include a convection oven, refrigerator and freezer, laptop computer, and supplies for day-to-day meal service. NDS owns and repairs equipment as needed. Each year, schools receive a labor budget to employ the staff needed to cook and serve meals. This budget is based on average daily participation in breakfast and lunch. NDS provides annual and on-the-job training to staff hired by the school. The National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe course is also provided at no cost.
Other School Meals Information
Any school that serves breakfast and lunch can request enrollment in CEP. If your school does not participate in CEP, the cost of lunch is $3.00. Please use one of the links below to apply for free or reduced-price meals. A paper copy of the application is also available from your school’s main office. If your family qualifies for reduced-price meals, meals will be served to your children at no cost. NDS picks up the cost of those meals.
Click Here for Instructions for Applying Online– NEW for the 2023-2024 School Year
Click Here for the Family Guide
P-EBT Inquiry Portal: https://www.pennebt.com/en/
Adults & Staff Meal Prices
Any adult or school staff member is welcome to eat the NDS breakfast and lunch offered to students each day. Schools will be sent an invoice monthly for any adult meals served. These meals must be recorded in their PrimeroEdge meal counting system.
The cost of School Breakfast is $2.80. The cost of School Lunch (both the hot and cold menu) is $4.45.
In the case of a school that does not offer a school meal, the school may participate in the Special Milk Program. Since it is subsidized, the cost of a half-pint of milk is just $0.10. NDS assists the participating schools with a refrigerator to store the milk.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program has grown from a pilot project of the US Department of Agriculture into a program that is now available in all fifty states. The goal is to introduce children to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Currently NDS partners with 19 schools that were chosen by the PA Department of Education through a competitive process.
Sample menu for the month of March 2023
For more information about the federal School Meals programs, visit the USDA website.