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2018-19 Cafeteria News and School Meals Information


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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.
  • Sports drinks (isotonic beverages) only available in secondary schools and must be located in physical education area only.