Prioritizing Healthy Learners: School Meals UpdateDecember 8, 2022
Dear ICSD Community,
At the start of the ‘22-’23 school year, we, unfortunately, reported the USDA’s decision to no longer provide free breakfast and lunch to all of our students. We realize that this policy (enacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic) was not only hugely popular, but incredibly helpful to all ICSD families. We understand that the return of this additional expense has been difficult for many, and our district does not take this lightly.
We have explored many different options that center access to healthy meals because we know that a learner's access to food directly impacts their education. First and foremost, as part of the Prohibition Against Meal Shaming, our district has, and will continue to provide a meal for a student if they request one, regardless of whether or not they have the ability to pay. In accordance with this law, we are prohibited from identifying or stigmatizing a student who cannot pay for a meal or who owes a meal debt by any means. We will continue to uphold and follow this policy and we assure all ICSD families that your student will always have access to food while they attend school in this district.
In addition, we are moving forward with the following changes:
- As many families have already seen, we have switched platforms for online meal payments and are now using MySchoolBucks. This system allows us to eliminate fees associated with credit card payments and increase accessibility for more families.
- Effective immediately, we will no longer be sending out negative meal fund balance letters or making phone calls to families. Our priority is to ensure that your children have access to healthy meals. If you would like to receive notifications about negative balances, this can be managed through your MySchoolBucks account settings. See the FAQs page for more information.
- We have digitized the application for free and reduced price school meals! We know that this has been a barrier for many families in completing the form, and we hope that with the transition to online access, more families will take advantage. The application is live and can be accessed here: Online Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals/Milk (click on “Select District & Continue”). The application must be completed in one sitting.
- We will increase communication around school meals to ensure families are aware of the benefits that they are eligible to receive and provide resources within the community that support nutrition and food access.
Director of Child Nutrition
Ithaca Child Nutrition
c/o Boynton Middle School
1601 N. Cayuga Street
Ithaca, NY 14850