2022-23 Meal Service

Pre-K/Headstart (March 2023)

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Elementary (March 2023)

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Middle (March 2023)

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High (March 2023)

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Non-Discrimination Statements: English | espanol

Special Diet Procedure

 If your student requires a special meal plan, related to a medical condition or food allergy, the Special Dietary Needs Form must be completed and emailed to DFNSOffice@mcpsmd.org. This form can be accessed in  English español | français | 中文 | Portuguese | 한국어 | tiếng Việt | አማርኛ  


Low and Unpaid Meal Balance Notification Procedure

The school nutrition programs provide nutritious meals to children during the school day. In order to serve healthy, high-quality meals to all children, we must make sure we are financially secure. You play a key role in this effort, and are responsible for purchases made by your child in their school cafeteria. As parents/guardians, MCPS wants to ensure that you are notified when student cafeteria accounts are low and/or go into a negative balance. All are expected to pay.

The following efforts will be utilized to ensure that low or unpaid meal balances are addressed by you in collaboration with your school:

  • If your student has a low or negative balance, a Cafeteria Account Statement will be sent home weekly to all parents at the elementary level and biweekly at the secondary level.
  • When a negative balance exceeds $10, a Connect-Ed message will be sent weekly from the school level and biweekly from the Division of Food and Nutrition Services to you to ensure communication and updates.
  • When a negative balances rises to the level of $20 or more, a school administrator, school counselor, pupil personnel worker, or parent community coordinator will contact you by phone to discuss the negative balance and to determine a method of repayment. If a method of repayment is not possible at that time, then the school will work with you to apply for FARMS services.

Central Office support will entail the following:

If your child's growing negative balance is concerning you, your child may be eligible to receive Free or Reduced-Price meals. You may apply online at MySchoolApps.com or complete a Household Application for Free and Reduced-Price Meals, available from your child's school.

MySchoolBucks.com is an optional service for parents/guardians to make prepayments to your child's cafeteria account for breakfast, lunch, and a la carte meals via the Internet with a credit/debit card. This service is offered as a convenience for interested families. By creating a secure online account, parents can monitor and/or manage their child's account. There is a $1.95 convenience fee for each payment transaction. There is no cost to set up an account and check your child's spending history or receive low balance notifications.

Menu Planning

Our dietitians work diligently to balance many aspects of menu planning — regulations established by the United States Department of Agriculture, food safety, cost, preparation, storage, seasonal availability, Healthy Guidelines for Americans and donated government foods — to provide healthy meals that are acceptable to our customers.

In addition, we collaborate with manufacturers and develop specifications to provide foods that not only taste good, but also are lower in fats and sodium. New products are tested periodically with student groups and, if results are positive, the products are introduced on menus for all students.

Sometimes, foods, such as whole grains, are not particularly acceptable to students, but recognized as highly beneficial and healthy. In these instances we will try different forms of the product, believing that, over time, students will become more accustomed to having these foods as a regular part of their diets.

MCPS menus are planned in cycles during the school year. Different menu items may be offered for a specified period of time and then replaced with new offerings. This allows us to increase the variety of foods offered during the year.

A La Carte 

In continuing efforts to promote and maintain a healthy school environment, guidelines for the sale of snack and beverage items through vending machines, school stores, athletic department and fundraisers have been updated. Under the direction of the Chief Operating Officer, schools were notified of the nutritional requirements for the sale of food sold to students from midnight until 30 minutes after the end of the instructional day.

A variety of a la carte items may be available in your student's school cafeteria. All items available for sale are in compliance with JPG-RA. Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health. Specific items vary at each school. Examples of items for sale are baked chips, crackers and low-fat ice cream. For specific information regarding items available at your child's school or to restrict the purchase of a la carte items, please contact your school cafeteria manager.


Approved Snack Items

  • Total fat: Calories from total fat must be at or below 35% per serving. Excludes nuts, seeds, nut butters, and reduced-fat cheese.
  • Trans fat: Less than 0.5 grams (trans fat free) per serving
  • Saturated fat: Calories from saturated fat must be below 10% per serving. Excludes reduced-fat cheese.
  • Sugar: Total sugar must be under or equal to 35% sugar by weight (includes naturally occurring and added sugars). Excludes fruits, vegetables, and milk.
  • Sodium: ≤ 230 mg per non-entree. ≤ 480 mg per entree.
  • Portion size/Calories: Not to exceed the serving size of the food served in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); for other items, the package or container is not to exceed 200 calories.
  • Carbonated beverages, candy of any type or donuts are prohibited from sale to students regardless of their nutritional profile.

Click here for Smart Snack Calculator.

Approved Beverages

  • Milk: Only low-fat (1% or less) and fat-free (skim), flavored or unflavored fluid milk, and/or USDA approved alternative dairy beverages; limit serving size to maximum of 8 fluid ounces.
  • Fruit and vegetable juices: 100% juice with no sweeteners (nutritive or non-nutritive); limit serving size to maximum of 6 fluid ounces in elementary schools.
  • Water: No sweeteners (nutritive or non-nutritive) noncarbonated, caffeine-free. No flavored water in elementary schools.