by JOHN HENRY Food Service Director Rockford Public Schools The school lunches are still a great value both nutritionally and economically! Nationally, the school lunch price is under $2.30 and is a well-balanced meal. Every school lunch includes five great choices: milk-fat-free or one percent vegetable-fresh to frozen fresh fruit of all kinds grains-more whole-grain items like rolls and sandwich bread meat or meat-alternate-white meat chicken, beans, lean beef Parents can save money when a student takes the school lunch. On average, it costs less to buy a school lunch than to bring a lunch from home. The estimated national average last year of a lunch taken from home was $3.43. Also, there is such a thing as a free lunch (and a reduced price one, too)! All children at participating schools may purchase meals though the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Families with incomes at or below 130 percent of poverty level are eligible for free meals. Families with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of poverty level are eligible for the reduce-price meals-these students can be charged no more than 40 cents per meal. Contact your food service department to fill out a School Meal Application. Healthy meals feed eager minds. Meals served under the NSLP must meet nutrition guidelines based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. No more than 30 percent of the calories can come from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. School lunches provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories over the course of one week of menus. Students who eat school lunches consume fewer calories from fat than students who bring lunch from home, based on recent studies. Compared to lunches from home, school lunches contain: three times as many dairy products; twice as much fruit; seven times the vegetable amounts. NSLP participants have substantially lower intakes of added sugars than do non-participants. For more information contact your district’s food service director.