Food Service FAQ's
The National School Lunch and Breakfast program is a federal program that provides a nutritionally balanced meal to children. School lunches must meet meal pattern and nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the National School Lunch Program. The meal pattern’s dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals and increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is a complex program that often leaves questions. Below are frequently asked questions Chartwells has received:
What is included in a “complete lunch?”
A complete lunch includes a choice of:
Entrée (supplying a protein and grain) +
Fruit and/or veggie sides +
Low fat milk and/or 100% fruit juice
Did you know that an a la cart entrée is the same price as a complete lunch? Our team is trained to encourage students to take advantage of the fruit and vegetable bar in order to get more vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep them feeling full longer! Therefore, if a team member sees your child with only an a la cart entrée we will encourage them to grab a fruit or veggie; however, it is the students choice.
Complete lunch examples are below:
How do I pay for a meal?
Payments for meals can be made in the form of cash, check or an online credit or debit card. To set up an online account or to monitor your students account please visit Family Portal.
BPS is an “offer vs. serve” school, what does that mean?
BPS participates in an offer vs. serve format through the National School Lunch Program. Therefore, Chartwells can never tell a student they must take any item. We’re required to offer specific food groups but it is always the student’s choice if they want to pick that item.
Why is water sold separately?
Water is not outlined by the USDA as a component in a complete meal. BPS and Chartwells must follow the Federal Guidelines. Therefore, we cannot substitute milk in a school lunch with bottled water. However, we always have water for sale or cups free of charge where students can utilize the water fountain. For more information, please visit the USDA website regarding the National School Lunch Program.
Why are there breaded items, for example, chicken tenders and nuggets?
We are required to have 2 oz. of a grain in each entrée (as well as 2 oz. of a protein). Breaded products allow us to have finger-foods that meet the guidelines and are enjoyed by students. All breaded products are made with a Whole Wheat breading, baked (NEVER fried), and a whole-muscle product. The USDA requires all grains served to our students to be whole. Please click here for a whole grain resource.
My child says there isn’t anything healthy to eat in his or her cafeteria, why don’t you have more options?
Depending which grade your student is in, there are various amounts of options. As children get older we offer more choices. It is up to the student to choose their lunch each day. We’re an offer vs. serve school therefore we cannot tell students what to take. If students purchase a la cart items each day in place of a meal, it is their choice. Restrictions can be placed on accounts by parents. Please visit Family Portal and login to your account there to place restrictions. We do encourage parents to come dine with their student to see the options we offer! You are also encouraged to check out our Facebook page at Birmingham Public Schools Food Service FB to see pictures of what we are serving, options, links, and a lot of information about our services.