Education

The School Year Kicks Off Next Week, and Dallas ISD Will Provide Free Meals to All Students

Dallas ISD offers free meals to all students
Dallas ISD offers free meals to all students Photo by Cristiano Pinto on Unsplash
With the new school year starting next week, Dallas Independent School District says it will provide free meals for all students regardless of income.

The free meal program includes breakfast, lunch and after-school meals during the week, as well as breakfast and lunch on Saturdays to students participating in Saturday educational programs, and students can receive meals during winter, spring and Thanksgiving breaks.

The program is offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision, which is based on any given area's rate of economically disadvantaged residents.

“The reimbursement that we get from the USDA pays for all of the food,” said Michael Rosenberger, DISD’s executive director of food and child nutrition services. “That’s how we are able to make this available at no cost for all students.”

The meals will include options like fruit or a chicken biscuit for breakfast. For lunch, they have choices from across the five food groups including vegetables, meat and grains.

“We generally have an elementary, middle school and the high school menu,” said Rosenberger. “All the menus feature multiple choices including a vegetarian entrée everyday. … They feature lean proteins, whole grains, tons of fruits and vegetables and many times local. We buy Texas as much as possible.”

He said that the menu items are all student-tested and include popular items such as pizza and chicken tenders. They also have meals like turkey tetrazzini and build-your-own-bowls, as well as international cuisines such as Peruvian and Korean dishes.

“We really tried to reach out to all customers and have something for everybody at every meal period,” Rosenberger said.

According to the DISD nutritional guidelines and menu information page, “Students must choose 3 of the 5 food components one being a fruit or vegetable … A hamburger (grain and protein) and a fruit would be considered a complete meal because it meets the minimum amount of components and a fruit or vegetable was selected. But the student could have also selected instead (at no additional charge), the hamburger, fruit, vegetable x 2 and milk. Pre K is served foods from all 5 components.”

It also states that the district works to provide lower sodium meals by adding flavor with herbs and spices instead of salt, plans to have 10% or less calories from saturated fat weekly and that the district has no deep-fryers on campuses.

Additionally, students may purchase a la carte food items with cash or with their MySchoolBucks meal account.

Parents can view the menus available at their student’s schools by visiting the meal viewer system and choosing which school menu they would like to see.

“We are ready,” said Rosenberger of the return to class on next Monday. “We have student favorites on the menu from day number one, and we definitely encourage all students to come to the cafeteria, get a super healthy … achievement boosting breakfast, lunch, supper."

He added, "We just can’t wait to have our kids back."
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Kate Pezzulli, an editorial fellow for the Observer, is a graduate student at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT. Besides storytelling, she likes sailing, working on Jeeps, camping, potting and baking. Voted No. 1 friend in an apocalypse.
Contact: Kate Pezzulli