Things to Consider Before Applying

Is the school eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program?

  • Public and private schools that accept full administrative and financial responsibility are eligible to participate in the programs.
  • All public schools are eligible to participate.
  • Private schools must qualify according to USOE rules and have nonprofit status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Does this make financial sense for the program?

Evaluate the kitchen and storage facilities. Is there space for children to eat meals?

  • Is there adequate space and equipment to store, cook, prepare and serve meals?
  • What type of kitchen does your school have?
    On-Site Kitchen: All food is stored, prepared and served on site.
    Shared Kitchen: A licensed kitchen facility that is shared by two or more school food authorities and/or foodservice companies.
    Satellite Kitchen: All food is brought into the school by an outside kitchen; the school only has capability to reheat and serve meals. The food is prepared within the district, but not at this kitchen.
    Vended Kitchen: All food is brought into the school by an outside catering company or from a separate school food authority. The school has no capability to heat and serve meals. “Outside catering company” is the key here – the individual site does not prepare food, nor does another school in the same district handle it.
    Retherm Kitchen: Preparation and production are limited to reheating previously prepared, stored, and chilled food to serving temperature. Mostly commercially-prepared items. Need storage space for a minimum of one week of storage.

Are there staff members to devote to the child nutrition programs? 

  • As federally-funded programs, the child nutrition programs entail much more than the preparation and service of meals to children.
  • The programs require significant amounts of documentation and record keeping, along with the preparation of menus, staff supervision, and counting and claiming each child according to his/her respective eligibility category.
  • Each school should have at least one full-time staff member who can devote time fully to the administration of the Program.

The ideal Kitchen Manager or Food Service Supervisor should be capable of and trained in:

  • calculating food needs,
  • food purchasing, using state contracts and private procurement contracts,
  • and accounting for food prepared and served daily using accurate production records.

    Click here for sample job descriptions for Kitchen Managers and School Nutrition Directors/Supervisors

Menu Planning

Each School Food Authority must choose an option for planning menus and serving meals:

Click here for the Steps to Becoming Approved