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Meal changes for 2022-23; applications required

With the COVID-19 restrictions easing nationally and statewide, school meals are no longer free for everyone. Instead, families are encouraged to submit a free or reduced lunch application for consideration.

All meals follow U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines and deliver a well-rounded, nutritious meal that meets federal guidelines.

“If a student takes everything offered they will get a science-based menu that meets requirements for calories, minerals and more,” Nancy Padrone of Silver Spoons Nutrition, a consultant hired by the district to help prepare for the new year, said. And, meals are still a bargain for families at the prices set by the board of education:

  • Millbrook High School: $3.50 lunch, $2 breakfast

  • Millbrook Middle School: $3.25 lunch, $1.75 breakfast

  • Alden Place/Elm Drive: $3 lunch, $1.75 breakfast

“It would be difficult for a family to produce the nutritional value of the meals we create on their own for less,” said Padrone, who is a registered dietitian.

Parents are encouraged to submit applications as soon as possible. Everyone approved - be it for free or reduced lunch, will receive a free meal, she said, explaining that because the district is reimbursed by New York State for the cost difference, those families who are approved for reduced pricing also get a free meal.

The application may also help the family with other aspects of their child’s education. If the district is permitted to share information from the application with other entities, fees for taking the ACT exam or even applying to certain colleges may be waived or reduced, she said.

The importance of eating a proper meal can’t be emphasized enough.

“Our staff is looking forward to serving students again and they know how important breakfast and lunch are for students to learn. A hungry child can’t learn,” Padrone said.

For the first day of school, pizza - the clear student favorite - is on the menu. But, there will be some different menu items in the fall.

“The fall menu for October and November will feature some seasonal produce so we can make use of what is being harvested in New York State so we can use local institutions,” Padrone said.

And, while COVID restrictions have eased, some of the supply chain issues still remain, so some menu items may not be available as indicated. For example, currently chicken and turkey are in short supply, she said.

Students will be able to have a say in what is offered as Padrone is developing a way to collect feedback, be it through a survey or a focus group.

“Besides meeting nutritional needs we want to offer what students like because if it is not eaten, it has no value,” she said, adding that the staff is also looking to do some scratch cooking with items the students enjoy.