High School Cafeteria Frequently Asked Questions

After a months-long evaluation, the South Park High School cafeteria will opt out of the federal school lunch and breakfast program on a trial basis beginning on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. While this decision will result in changes to our food service operations at the high school, it does not affect our commitment to serving quality, nutritious meals to your child throughout the school day. High school students will notice an increased selection of the foods they have been requesting. In addition, we will launch an after-school food program–an initiative we believe will be very popular with students who participate in sports, clubs, and other activities.

Below, you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about this change at South Park High School. If you have a question that was not answered here, please email it to communications@sparksd.org. We will respond as soon as possible and may add your question and the answer to our FAQ list.


Why is the South Park High School cafeteria opting out of the federal school lunch and breakfast program?

As part of the National School Lunch Program, the South Park School District food service department operates under the guidelines of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 which set strict standards on what school cafeterias can and cannot serve. While the mission of the program is to serve students more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, many high school students are throwing away the food they are required to take. Other high school students are not participating in the lunch program.

School district administrators worked with students in Mrs. Hecht’s college accounting class to analyze the costs and benefits of opting out of the school lunch program. Administrators and students also visited South Fayette High School, one of the first schools in the area to opt out of the program nearly four years ago.

Mrs. Hecht’s students surveyed more than 500 South Park High School students to get their opinions on the current breakfast and lunch programs as well as their thoughts on some of the possible changes that could occur if the district opted out of the national program. Nearly 92 percent of students surveyed said they would purchase breakfast and/or lunch more often if the cafeteria could offer a wider variety of quality food.

Mrs. Hecht’s students and Mr. Andrew Lucchino, food service director, presented the findings and proposal to the South Park School District Board of Directors in March. The board voted to remove the high school cafeteria from the national program on a trial basis beginning on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.


What happens when a school opts out of the federal school lunch and breakfast program?

When a school opts out of the federal lunch and breakfast program, the school’s cafeteria is no longer limited by federal regulations. However, the school is no longer reimbursed for the cost of meals for students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. 


Does this mean there won’t be as many healthy options?

No. The district did not make this decision to reduce the number of healthy options in our cafeteria. In fact, the food service department expects to offer more healthy options to students once this change takes place. While this decision will better allow us to serve the food our students will eat, that food will still meet strict nutritional standards.


Is this a permanent decision?

No. South Park High School will be off the federal program for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. The results will be assessed over the summer, and a decision about whether to remain off the program will be made before the first day of school in August. The district will communicate with high school families over the summer about the food service program for the 2018-2019 school year.


Will the cost of a breakfast and lunch increase because of this decision? 

The cost of breakfast and lunch meals will remain the same. The cost of a breakfast meal is $1.50. The cost of a lunch meal is $2.70. Most items will now be charged as à la carte purchases, and many of those prices have been reduced. Click here to see a price list.

What changes will my child notice?

In addition to the increased number of healthy, high-quality selections, one of the main changes students will notice is that the whole wheat requirement will be eased. While whole wheat products will still be offered at the deli station, whole wheat products will be removed from other items like our entrées and the pizza selections. This is a change many of our students requested.


Under the new program, what is considered a “meal”?

Every day, the South Park High School cafeteria will offer one “blue and white meal.” This meal consists of that day’s main entrée selection plus a fruit, vegetable, and/or a carton of milk. While our high school food service staff will encourage your child to choose from our wide selection of fruits and vegetables, he/she is not required to take either a fruit or vegetable for the blue and white meal. Any combination of the “blue and white” entrée, a fruit, a vegetable, and/or one carton of milk will equal a lunch which costs $2.70. All other offerings outside of the “blue and white meal” will now be considered à la carte purchases and will be charged as such. 

For breakfast, the cafeteria will also offer a “blue and white meal.” That meal will consist of the morning’s featured entrée, fruit/juice, and/or a carton of milk. Any combination of the morning’s entrée, fruit/juice, and/or a carton of milk will equal a breakfast which costs $1.50. All other offerings outside of the “blue and white meal” will now be considered à la carte purchases and will be charged as such.


What are some of the à la carte offerings?

The South Park High School cafeteria will offer a number of à la carte items every day. Those offerings will include pizza, sandwiches from the deli station, custom salads, hot sandwiches, burgers, fries, cookies, healthy snacks and chips, and a number of drinks.

To see the à la carte offerings and pricing, click here.

New products will be added frequently to the South Park High School cafeteria. When they are, we will add them to our online à la carte menu and price list. Please be sure to check back frequently.


What does this change mean for students who receive free or reduced-price meals?

When this change takes effect on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, students who receive a free or reduced-price meal will receive a daily credit in their account. This daily credit can be used towards the purchase of a breakfast and/or lunch or during our new after-school meal program. This daily credit will be applied to the student’s account before school every day. Each evening, any remaining credit will be forfeited; a new credit will be applied the next day. Remaining credits cannot be applied to another day’s purchases.

Students who qualify for a free meal will receive a $4.20 daily credit. This credit is equal to the total cost of a breakfast meal ($1.50) and a lunch meal ($2.70).

Students who qualify for a reduced-price meal will receive a $3.50 credit.  

This credit may be used towards any item in the cafeteria, not just towards the purchase of that day’s listed meal. Students will not be required to make their breakfast or lunch a meal to be able to use their daily credits. 

Should a student purchase food items costing more than his/her daily credit, the student will be responsible for paying the difference. Our food service staff at the high school will be clearly marking the prices of our expanded à la carte offerings so students will know how much their breakfast or lunch costs before going to the register. 

Any student whose account is in the negative by $10.00 or more will only be allowed to choose the "blue and white meal." He/she will not be permitted to purchase à la carte items. 

Letters will be mailed and emailed to parents whose students receive free or reduced-price meals.


I heard there will be an after-school program in the cafeteria. What food will be offered, and how long will the cafeteria be open?

In conjunction with this decision, the South Park High School cafeteria will offer students who participate in sports, clubs, and activities a variety of food options when the school day is over. 

The after-school offerings will vary. Some of the options include a sandwich from the deli station, pizza, nachos, soft pretzels, hot sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, healthy snacks, and chips.

The high school cafeteria will be open from 2:20 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Does this change affect how I add money to my child’s breakfast/lunch account?

There will be no change to how you add money to your child’s account. You can do that online via MySchoolAccount or by sending cash or a check into school with your student. Checks can be made payable to the “South Park Cafeteria.”


Whom do I contact if I have questions about the new breakfast/lunch programs?

Please feel free to contact Brandon Smoker, food service director. He can be reached by calling (412) 655-3111, extension 2030. You can also email him at brandon.smoker@sparksd.org.

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