News

Palo Alto Unified to offer all students twice-daily free meals through state program

Students can receive free meals without registration, but district emphasizes other benefits of registration

The Palo Alto Unified School District will provide meals to students through the CA Meals for All program, which will commence in the 2022-2023 school year. Embarcadero Media file photo by Veronica Weber.

Starting this fall, students in the Palo Alto Unified School District will benefit from a statewide program that guarantees two daily free meals regardless of financial status.

CA Meals for All will commence in the 2022-23 school year, making California the first state to implement a universal meals program. The district began offering free meals without requiring registration in March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program permanently replaces the previously temporary structure.

In line with the federal eligibility scale, households with four family members making a total of less than $51,338 a year are eligible for reduced meal benefits and those that make less than $36,075 are eligible for free meal benefits.

While registration will not be required to receive meals, a press release from the district states that students with this designated status become eligible for a variety of other "learning and enrichment opportunities," such as discounts or waivers for college application and Advancement Placement test fees.

Furthermore, free and reduced lunch applications help inform the funding that the district receives annually from the state.

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Students and their families do not need to be United States citizens to qualify.

Applications are available online at paloalto.familyportal.cloud or can be completed and returned to Food Services at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. Questions can be directed to Theresa Poon in Student Nutrition Services, at 650-329-3806.

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Palo Alto Unified to offer all students twice-daily free meals through state program

Students can receive free meals without registration, but district emphasizes other benefits of registration

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Jun 19, 2022, 8:41 am

Starting this fall, students in the Palo Alto Unified School District will benefit from a statewide program that guarantees two daily free meals regardless of financial status.

CA Meals for All will commence in the 2022-23 school year, making California the first state to implement a universal meals program. The district began offering free meals without requiring registration in March 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program permanently replaces the previously temporary structure.

In line with the federal eligibility scale, households with four family members making a total of less than $51,338 a year are eligible for reduced meal benefits and those that make less than $36,075 are eligible for free meal benefits.

While registration will not be required to receive meals, a press release from the district states that students with this designated status become eligible for a variety of other "learning and enrichment opportunities," such as discounts or waivers for college application and Advancement Placement test fees.

Furthermore, free and reduced lunch applications help inform the funding that the district receives annually from the state.

Students and their families do not need to be United States citizens to qualify.

Applications are available online at paloalto.familyportal.cloud or can be completed and returned to Food Services at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. Questions can be directed to Theresa Poon in Student Nutrition Services, at 650-329-3806.

Do you know of news happening in your neighborhood or community that hasn't been reported on yet? Send Palo Alto Online your news tips!

Comments

Dan
Registered user
Midtown
on Jun 19, 2022 at 4:31 pm
Dan, Midtown
Registered user
on Jun 19, 2022 at 4:31 pm

The so called free meal comes with the high price of low quality. I haven't found one single kid actually likes the free meal, while they were quite happy with the paid meal before pandemic.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2022 at 6:41 pm
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 22, 2022 at 6:41 pm

Those that sign the paperwork for the Federal program are last in line at lunch. Other kids race to get their meals first (you know, the winners) , those that actually secure money for schools beware of the lunch rush. Nothing is guaranteed .


Leslie York
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:12 am
Leslie York, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 3:12 am

Really? Are Palo Alto residents with their $3 million McMansions so impoverished that taxpayers must feed their children?


Laura Taylor
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2022 at 6:40 am
Laura Taylor, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 6:40 am

"The so called free meal comes with the high price of low quality."

"Are Palo Alto residents with their $3 million McMansions so impoverished that taxpayers must feed their children?"

Simple solution...contract the free lunch program to outside vendors who could provide interesting meals with added variety.

The PAUSD (with menu input from Palo Alto parents) can easily afford to do so.

Some examples: Round Table Pizza, Village Cheese Shop, and Celia's, along with other options like sushi and artisan hamburgers.


Educator
Registered user
Midtown
on Jun 23, 2022 at 7:01 am
Educator, Midtown
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 7:01 am

Dan- I am curious how many youths you have surveyed about this. As a parent in the district, my two children (one elementary, one high school) have been getting free hot lunch all year and they love it. As an educator, I’ve seen kids eating the exact same food as they were previously served. The kids who don’t like it are likely the kids who never liked it. Good news- they can always bring a lunch! Are you proposing that we bring back paid meals??


Carolyn Cross
Registered user
Community Center
on Jun 23, 2022 at 11:36 am
Carolyn Cross, Community Center
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 11:36 am

Overly 'healthy' themed lunches will not cut it with the kids.

Carrot and celery sticks, tofu-based alternatives, and granola bars leave something to be desired.

You gotta have hot dogs, pizza, potato chips, hamburgers and tacos to generate any real interest in the program.

Assorted deli sandwiches are also a step in the right direction.

Why go to school and endure a boring free lunch menu that borders on the unimaginative?

Food should be enjoyable even if it's unhealthy to a certain extent.

Save the 'healthy' stuff for the grownups who probably need to enlist it at their particular stage in life.

Salt, sugar, and non-trans fat (in moderation) are OK for most people AND bring back peanuts as the so-called allergy was never problematic growing up during the 1950s and 1960s.


Julianne Hughes
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2022 at 1:33 pm
Julianne Hughes, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jun 23, 2022 at 1:33 pm

A regular Friday barbeque luncheon prepared by PTA members would be a nice treat for the kids.


Dan
Registered user
Midtown
on Jun 28, 2022 at 11:22 pm
Dan, Midtown
Registered user
on Jun 28, 2022 at 11:22 pm

PTA or school district should organize a survey for students on lunch quality. They're the ones know and care about the lunch quality in the first place.


Rob Cambridge
Registered user
Midtown
11 hours ago
Rob Cambridge, Midtown
Registered user
11 hours ago

> Food should be enjoyable even if it's unhealthy to a certain extent.

> Save the 'healthy' stuff for the grownups who probably need to enlist it at their particular stage in life.

^ Should overweight/obese students be designated a mandatory lunch menu that is focused on healthy weight loss?


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