SUSD’s Nutrition Services eliminates reduced lunch fee

A view of the Scottsdale Unified School District logo. (File photo)

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, starting Aug. 5, about 800 Scottsdale Unified School District students could benefit from waived reduced lunch fees.

For years, SUSD has charged 40 cents per lunch to students who qualify under federal guidelines for a reduced-price meal, but according to a press release, the district will waive that fee for participating students, offering them lunch at no charge.

SUSD already waives reduced-priced breakfast fees, the release noted, adding that the district is pleased to assist families that depend on school meals through the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act in a new way.

“We saw a growing need in the community of families that used to qualify for free meals just missing the cutoff and moving into the reduced-meal category,” said SUSD Nutrition Services Director Patti Bilbrey in a prepared statement.

“We never want to see a student go without a meal, so we worked out a plan to be able to waive lunch fees to help these families in need.”

Ms. Bilbrey said that the combination of the Jan. 2019 increase in Arizona’s minimum wage to $11 an hour and no change in federal poverty guidelines has resulted in some families having too much income to qualify their students for meals for the upcoming school year.

More than 5,000 SUSD students qualified for the free meal program last school year, according to the release.

“Because we run Nutrition Services like a business, keeping a strict eye on our costs and ensuring that we are not wasting food by making too much, we have the fiscal strength to be able to waive these fees,” Ms. Bilbrey said. “It’s the right thing to do for our families.”

Meanwhile, families must apply and meet federal income guidelines every school year in order for their students to receive free or reduced-price school meals. The previous year’s status is good for 30 days into the new school year, but families must re-apply within that time in order to continue.

Applications for the 2019-2020 school year can be completed online at susd.org/meals or by downloading a paper application at that link and taking it to the student’s school, the release noted.

SUSD’s Nutrition Services offers meals on each of the district’s 29 school campuses throughout the school year and during summer programming, serving 11,000 meals per school day and more than 2 million meals throughout the school year, on average.

Visit: susd.org.

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