Food Service FAQs

What is the National School Lunch Program?

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally funded meal program which provides both food and cash to subsidize the cost of school lunch in participating schools. The NSLP was established by President Harry Truman in 1946 and is currently operating in more than 96,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care centers. The program is managed at the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service and at the state level by the Illinois Board of Education (ISBE).

In order to receive the benefits of the NSLP, participating schools must offer free or reduced price meals to eligible children. The schools must also comply with nutritional requirements outlined by the federal government. These guidelines follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which recommend no more than 30% of a person’s calories come from fat with less than 10% from saturated fat. Lunch menus must also be designed to provide students with 1/3 of the key nutrients they need each day (calories, protein, Vitamins A and C, and iron).

Can my child eat breakfast at school?

In addition to participating in the National School Lunch Program, Unit 4 offers a daily breakfast program at the elementary and middle schools. The breakfast program functions in a manner similar to NSLP. For breakfast, ala carte sales are available at the high schools.

How do I pay for meals?

All schools use a computerized point of sale (POS) system to account for meals and ala carte purchases. To access the account, each child is assigned his/her own PIN number. At the elementary level, the student will not need to know the PIN number since a meal card is taken to the cafeteria and then taken to the office for meal recording. Students attending middle or high schools will need to memorize the PIN number to access the account. This PIN number does not change when the child changes schools – it will remain the same throughout your child’s education in Champaign CUSD #4. The account may only be used for purchase of meals and ala carte food items (available only in middle and high schools. At Central and Centennial High, shops, which offer ala carte sales only, are open before school and during lunch. These are strictly cash operations – no POS accounts can be used.

Parents are encouraged to pay for meals by check. Payments can be made for one week, a month, or even the year in advance. Meals must be paid for at the time of service. Charges are not allowed. Checks should be made payable to your child’s school Food Services. Any balance remaining at the end of the school year will be available for the next school year. If you are moving or your child will no longer attend Champaign CUSD #4, money may be refunded at a parent or guardian’s request, which must be made in writing to the Director of Food Services.

What if I want to put a limit on my child’s account?

Parents can decide if they want their child to use his/her meal account for ala carte items. Parents can limit the days of the week that the child may purchase additional items, set a dollar amount that the child cannot exceed each day, or prevent the purchase of additional items at all. To set limits on your child’s account, please contact the Director of Food Services.

What are ala carte foods?

Ala carte foods are available for purchase in addition to the school meal. Some foods produced for the day can be purchased as a meal or ala carte (i.e. fruit, second main dish, milk) and others are strictly ala carte foods (i.e. bottled water, vendor pizza, Bosco breadsticks). Many of these foods are only sold in the middle and high schools with ala carte sales at the elementary level being restricted to milk and juice. The price for ala carte items is the same for adults and for students, including those eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Ala carte foods can be paid for with cash or from your student’s meal account.

How does my child qualify to receive free or reduced-price meals?

If you are receiving food stamps or TANF for the child you are applying for, the child can qualify to receive free meals. If you are not, meal benefits can be determined based upon the number of people in the household (regardless of relation) and the gross monthly income in the household. All students in a household should be listed on one application with the exception of foster children. Each foster child must have a separate application. Meals applications can be obtained at the school office or the Director of Food Services office.

New students cannot be served a free or reduced-price meal until an application is approved. Please remember that a family who applies for meal benefits does not “automatically” qualify. Payment for meals, at full price, is required until the application is approved. Processing can take up to 10 business days from the date it is received by the Director of Food Services office. Only original applications can be processed.

For more information, visit our meal applications page.