Frequently Asked Questions

Free and Reduced-Price Meals 

  • How does a child qualify for free and reduced-price meals? Eligibility is generally based on family income, family size, and if the family has a food stamp number. The guidelines can be found on the free/reduced application.
  • Can I fill out an online application? Yes, and it is the fastest way to have an application approved. Parents may access the online application in English or Spanish through a link on the Nutrition Services web page or directly at
  • How do I get a paper application? Applications are available at the school office, the cafeteria, or Nutrition Services in the Administration building. New students can apply upon registration.
  • How long does it take to process an application? Upon receipt of a completed application, Nutrition Services has ten business days to complete the processing procedure.
  • Will parents need to pay for a child's lunch until the application is processed? Yes. If meals are charged before the day a child's application is approved, charges are not paid later by the government. Parents must still pay for charged meals before application approval. 
  • What does the school district do to protect the personal information about a child? All information is kept confidential in Nutrition Services and is only given to authorized school district officials.

  National Breakfast/Lunch Program 

  • Is the school district required to meet any nutritional guidelines? The federal government requires that meals served in our cafeterias meet specific guidelines regarding portion size, food choices, and content.
  • Where can parents find nutritional information about the meals? Nutritional analysis of our meals may be found on this web site by selecting "Menus".

  Offer versus Serve 

  • Who determines what food goes on my child's tray? By federal law, school personnel must allow the child to choose what he/she wants to eat from the selections available. 
  • What is a reimbursable meal? Only meals that meet the government requirements for meal patterns are subsidized. We follow the Traditional meal pattern from the USDA, so five food components are offered at lunch each day. These are 1) Meat or meat alternates, 2) Vegetables, 3) Fruit, 4) Grains, and 5) Milk. In order for a meal to be reimbursable at least 3 of these 5 food groups need to be chosen, and at least 1 of these 3 must be a Fruit or Vegetable.
  • How many fruits and vegetables can be selected as part of a lunch meal? Each day at least two vegetables and two fruit choices are offered at lunch. Students may choose up to two vegetables and one or two fruits as part of a lunch meal without an additional charge. If more servings are desired, they may be purchased a la carte.   

Menu Selection/Quality

  • Who determines what food choices will be available on the daily menu? The reimbursable menus are planned to meet the federal nutrition guidelines, while considering the preferences of the students. In addition, nutritional analysis is conducted by a Registered Dietitian on all reimbursable menus to be sure that they meet the RDA for each age group.
  • What efforts are made to keep foods at the correct temperatures?  Hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) procedures are followed to verify that food is cooked or held at safe temperatures. Therefore, temperatures are monitored during receiving, storage, preparation, cooking, cooling, reheating, holding, assembling, packaging, transporting, and serving.
  • Why are a la carte foods sold in my school? Government guidelines allow Nutrition Services to sell a la carte items that meet certain nutrition values, such as baked chips or small ice cream.  If a parent does not want their child to be able to purchase any of these items, they should send a note to the Cafeteria Manager.

Meal Payments

  • Why do adult meals cost more than student meals? We do not receive any monetary or commodity reimbursement for adult meals, so we are required to charge higher prices for their meals. Federal regulation prohibits us from giving free lunches to adults or from utilizing program funds for the purpose of subsidizing adult meals.  
  • What is Universal Breakfast? The Universal Breakfast program or "Breakfast for All" is offered by Nutrition Services to every school in PISD.  

· Students that usually pay full or reduced prices for breakfast are offered this meal for free (even though the government does not pay the difference).

·   Students still need to pay for lunch as usual.

·   This program is being offered in an effort to enhance the education of our students. Studies show that students who eat breakfast each day have higher test scores and longer attention spans.  Teachers report that students demonstrate increased on-task behaviors, as well as decreased tardiness, physical complaints, and disruptions. Cash payment is also accepted in the serving line. Cash payment is also accepted in the serving line.

  • How can parents pay for meals? Cash payments may be sent in sealed envelopes labeled with student names and ID numbers. Online credit card payments may also be made by going to and creating a student meal account. In order to do so, parents will need the student ID number and the school zip code. 

·   Parents may check purchases and account balances from this account. They may also set low balance limits so the system alerts them when another payment is needed.

·   If a family has more than one child in the District, they can handle all online prepayments from the same online account. 

·   Payments may be made with a major credit card.

· In order to use the online prepayment service, a small convenience fee for each transaction will be assessed to cover the bank fees.  The convenience fee is $2.25 per deposit transaction. Parents placing money into multiple meal accounts will only be charged one convenience fee per deposit transaction. Pasadena School District does not profit from the use of this site.
- Cash payment is also accepted in the serving line.

  • District Charge Policy
    Parents are strongly encouraged to continually monitor their child’s meal account balance. When a student’s meal account is depleted, the District will notify the parents via phone message and notices sent home with students. The student will be given a grace period of two days where lunches may be charged. If parents do not send payments for their outstanding account balance by the end of the grace period students will be offered a courtesy meal and campus administration will then follow up with parents. Ala Carte items may not be charged.