Eligibility is determined based on family income. Each school system participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program is required to provide an application to each student in the school district. Families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals; families with income between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced price meals; and families with income over 185 percent of the poverty level pay full student price for meals.
Carbonated beverages are considered in the category of foods of minimal nutritional value (FMNV) by the USDA and are not allowed as part of the National School Lunch Program as per the NSLP Federal Regulation 7 CFR 210.
The policy set by USDA prohibits "any food or beverage that has sugar or high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient on the school premises until after the end of the last scheduled class." This would not preclude a parent from bringing a birthday cake, cupcakes, or other baked item for a birthday party. It does preclude any use of soft drinks or sweetened beverages to such a celebration during the school day. It would be very important to read the label and make the determination if an item has the first ingredient listed as sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
This policy does not restrict what parents may provide for their own child's breakfast, lunch, or snack. Parents may provide any item, including foods of minimum nutritional value for their own child's consumption, but may not provide the restricted items to other children at school during the school day. However, a local school board or even an individual school may adopt a more restrictive policy and limit the items that a child may bring. It is best to check with your child's school for individual policies.
Teachers may use foods for instructional purposes as long as the items are not considered FMNV, as defined by USDA, or candy. Students in classes that use foods as part of the instructional curriculum may consume those foods prepared as part of the class as long as they do not provide them to other students and/or classes. Foods provided as part of the class or school cultural heritage event are exempt from the policy, as long as the foods served are not served in competition to the school meal, during lunch or breakfast and regular meal service must continue to be available to all students.
No foods of any type may be sold at any place on the school campus during meal service times, to include breakfast and lunch times. Neither may fundraisers be planned to occur just before the meal service in an effort to sell food items that would decrease participation in the school breakfast or school lunch program. All fundraisers should examine the items being sold and choices must promote good health. This includes the selling of food as students gather on the school campus before school begins or as students wait on transportation or otherwise exit the school campus following school dismissal. No fundraisers may sell foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day or as described above. All events outside the school day are exempt from this policy.
Fundraisers are not allowed to sell foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day. All sales conducted after school hours are exempt from this policy. In any event, the label of the food item must be reviewed. The restrictions are that no food item with sugar or high fructose corn syrup may be available to children during school hours. Some chocolate does not have sugar listed as the first ingredient.