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Child Nutrition Program



Beth Krause, Director of Child Nutrition
Phone: 607-274-2302
Fax: (607) 274-6836

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Updates and Announcements

Food and Nutrition Items
Due to the pandemic, it has taken 7-8 weeks for us to get food deliveries of the amount of food we use. We procured cereal and meal breaks last May to be delivered by July, and we need to use these items first before we can serve other items. All of the pre-packaged foods meet USDA Nutritional Guidelines. The cereal types are all whole grain and contain 25% less sugar than the types sold in grocery stores, as they are made specially for schools. At the time we ordered, we could not get Cheerios or Chex pre-packaged. Procuring food and paper supplies is still a problem.

USDA Extends Free Meals Through December 31
On August 31, the USDA announced that it would extend various nationwide waivers that support access to nutritious meals while minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19 through December 31, 2020. As a result of these waiver extensions, the ICSD will be able to offer free school breakfast and lunch to any child, regardless of eligibility status, when our regular school year meal service begins on September 14. Learn more>>

Grab-and-Go School Meals for Remote Learners
Grab-and-go meals are available for pickup Monday through Friday at each school for students engaged in distance/hybrid learning. Families should place their meal orders using the online order form. Visit our School Meals Information page for details.

Apply for SNAP
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have wide-ranging health and economic impacts, please know that you may be eligible for programs that will help you buy food for your family, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Click on the button below to learn more and apply today.

Apply for SNAP button

FAQs: P-EBT Food Benefits
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorized the payment of Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits to households with children who would have received free school lunches under the National School Lunch Act, if not for a school closure. These temporary food benefits are to help cover the cost of meals children would otherwise would have received at school. To learn more, view Frequently Asked Questions for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Food Benefits.

Free and Reduced Price Meals 2020-2021
The Ithaca City School District offers free and reduced price meal plans. Our schools' eligibility rates for free and reduced price meals also help us receive additional aid and grant money. Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are now available. Click here to learn more and apply>>

The Ithaca City School District participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to providing reimbursement and government donated commodities for meals, the USDA also sets the nutrition standards our meals must meet.

School meals offer students fruits and vegetables, proteins and grains, and milk, all of which they must meet strict limits on saturated fat and portion size. The USDA Guidelines include:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits
  • Servings of vegetables and fruit
    • Students MUST take ½ cup serving of fruit or vegetable with their meal
  • A wide variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes
  • Fat-free Milk
  • More whole grains
  • Less sodium
While 5 options must be offered, only 3 need to be taken for the school to receive reimbursement for the meal. One of those 3 must be a fruit or a vegetable. (In addition to students who receive free or reduced price meals, we also receive a smaller reimbursement for students who pay for their meals). Schools receive the reimbursements from the federal government and a smaller reimbursement from the state government.

So students can take a vegetable, a fruit, and a grain and that would allow the school to be reimbursed. Students could also take a protein (such as a Cool School Food bean-based entrée), a vegetable, and a fruit, for the meal to be reimbursed. As long as students take 3 options, and one if a fruit or a vegetable, the school district gets reimbursed.

Water must be made available to all students and is available in all cafeterias.
Customer Service

The employees of the Ithaca School Food Service Program are committed to providing students with nutritious, tasty meals in an atmosphere they will enjoy. We understand that a hungry child cannot learn. School meals serve as a building block to promote the growth and development of our students and can provide one of the tools they need to achieve a positive and optimal learning environment.

Meeting the nutritional needs and food preferences of Ithaca students is the department’s primary goal. We invite parents and students to contact our staff with any comments or requests. If you have a favorite recipe you would like to submit, we are always on the lookout for new menu items and try to incorporate new and different foods that children may not have tasted before.

Consumer education is one of the goals of the food service department. You and your child(ren) will observe the following throughout the school year:

  • Free samples and taste testing in student cafeterias
  • New food items highlighted on the printed menu
  • Cool School Foods – Plant Based Foods From Around The World

We also make every effort to accommodate students with food intolerances or allergies. District-wide, there are many students with food allergies, some of which are life threatening. If your child has lactose intolerance, a food allergy, or other medical condition that affects their diet, please obtain a note from your physician and send it to the school nurse. The note should indicate the food(s) the child cannot eat, and recommend substitutions when applicable. A note will be put on the child’s account to alert cashiers to check the tray when the child comes through the line.

If you have questions about food allergies, or any other facet of the school lunch and breakfast programs, please call our office at 607-274-2302. We also invite parents to join their children for lunch at any time. Please contact the main office at your child’s school to make arrangements if you wish to visit.