Nutrition Support Services (NSS) provides all CPS students with healthy, delicious meals everyday.
NSS offers nutritious meals free to every student which exceed USDA nutrition standards for school meals.
National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs
- CPS provides nutritionally balanced, free meals to all students
- Annually CPS serves approximately 27 million breakfasts and 43 million lunch meals
After School Meals and Snacks
- Healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks to support student's extended day while attending after-school and Saturday programs
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
- Elementary school students are exposed to a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the school year in classroom tasting activities and accompanied nutrition education.
Seamless Summer Program
- Schools open for summer provide free breakfast and lunch
- LunchStop serves free, healthy meals for any child 1-18 years of age at outdoor school locations.
Students Advocating For School Lunch
Learn More About The School Lunch Program
1. Become familiar with your school dining center
- Where are the main entrees located? Where are special items located?
- Is the menu for the day and/or month posted in an area where students are able to see?
- Look at your school menu for the month to ensure that school is on menu and that all of the items are located on your school lunch line.
- Menus us us are available cps.edu/menu
2. Learn more about the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Offer vs. Serve Program.
- Be sure you understand how many items you can take (high schools students are permitted to take up to seven items) 1 milk, 2 vegetables, 2 fruit, 1 grain, 1 protein.
Steps To Follow When There Are Issues With School Food
1. Be sure to notify your school dining manger whenever there is an issue with your lunch.
- For example if the fruit is rotten, or if a burger is overcooked, the School Dining Manager should offer another option if there is an issue with your lunch.
2. If there are consistent issues with your school food:
- Continue to report them to your Dining Manager
- Report the issue to your School Principal
- Begin to keep a daily log
- Report your issues to Food@cps.edu
Reporting Your Preferences to Nutrition Support Services
1. Have a couple of students assigned to each lunch period to:
- See what students are eating
- Urge students to try new menu items
- Find out favorite menu items
2. Collect responses in a report and send them to Food@cps.edu
Let Your Voice Be Heard
Student participation in school meal program ensures CPS serves quality meals every day.
Advocate for what you would like to see on your school menu!
Frequently Asked Questions
CPS offers breakfast, lunch, after school snack, after school meals and snacks, and Saturday meals and snacks to all students during the school year. CPS also serves breakfast and lunch to students during the summer months.
While there may be variations due to equipment and facilities (i.e. only cold meals, less total options, etc.) the menu is the same for each school, every day.Regardless of preparation methods, all menus follow the same nutritional guidlines year round.
All CPS students can participate in the school meal program at no charge for free, so families can save time and money by choosing school meals. Research shows that school meals often exceed the nutritional content of meals packed from home. Parents and guardians play a vital role in the development of students’ eating habits both in and out of school. Meals served as part of the CPS school meal program exceed USDA standards for school meals. A well-balanced and healthy diet will help students to be more alert and ready to learn.
The federal nutrition standards ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week; increase the availability of whole grain-rich foods; offer only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties; limit calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and reduce the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium. CPS school meals meet or exceed the federal standards.
While we encourage families to pack nutritious snacks and lunches for their children there is no board policy that requires home packed food to meet specific nutrition guidelines. There are guidelines for foods brought for classroom celebrations or foods to be shared with other students. Absolutely no homemade foods can be shared during classroom celebrations for risk of food safety and student food allergies. Additionally, all outside foods brought for celebrations must meet the district’sHealthy Snack and Beverage Policy
. Students may also supplement school meal with items brought from home.
School menus are planned by a team of Registered Dietitians from both CPS and Aramark. Nutrition Support Services closely monitors student participation and feedback from parents and students to continuously improve menu options. The dietitians ensure that first and foremost all USDA and CPS nutrition guidelines are met. The new standards require schools include a daily fruit and vegetable. Vegetables are split into several subgroups (dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and other) to ensure that students get a variety of vegetables. For example, a meal needs to have at least ¾ cup of vegetables per day but limits starchy vegetables (like potatoes) to ½ cup a week. All grains served must be whole-grain rich, meaning they contain at least 50% whole grains.
In 2014, CPS removed reformulated breakfast cereals from its meal program so students receive consistent messaging about the types of foods that help fuel their learning and growth. This can help foster healthy eating habits outside of school. Reformulated foods are the same brand and packaging as those sold in stores, but are reformulated to comply with school nutrition standards set forth by the district, as well as by the USDA.
Yes, beginning in September 2015, CPS Nutrition Support Services will offer MySchoolBucks to parents. This online payment service provides an easy way for parents and guardians to add money to their child’s cafeteria account using a credit/debit card. The money they add to this online service will be made available to students when they purchase food at school. Students may use funds to purchase additional meal items beyond the free meals such as extra milk, fruit, vegetable or entrée. This service also allows you to view your child’s school menus and associated nutritional information.
Several CPS schools participate in the FoodShare Program that distributes whole produce to local food pantries. Throughout School Year 2014-2015 more than 9,000 pounds of produce were donated. School Dining Managers keep production records to monitor consumption and estimate the amount of food to be prepared. If you are interested in starting the FoodShare program at your school please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All school dining staff hold a Chicago Food Service Manager certification and/or a Food Handler card. They are trained on food safety, food allergy awareness, CPS Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy (competitive foods/vending policy) as well as Point of Sale (POS) applications. Other areas of annual training include Ethics and Compliance. The goal is to ensure consistent and regular training to improve food service operations and customer service. In total staff receives a minimum of 7.75 hours of training annually.