Dear Carmel Community,
It is not every day that we get to share news about something that is going to save families in the Carmel Central School District a lot of money. So, we are very excited to tell you that, starting December 1, 2023 school breakfast and lunch will be free for all students in all our schools.
This program, which is funded by a New York State Education Department grant, will save families $1,130 per child per year. Families with two children will save $2,260 per year. Three-child families will save $3,390 per year, and so on. These savings are based on a grant that allows Carmel schools to provide students with a free breakfast and lunch every school day through June 2027.
Additional meals may be purchased at the following prices: breakfast at the elementary schools, $1.50; breakfast at the middle and high schools, $2.00; lunch at the Elementary School, $3.35; lunch at the middle and high Schools, $3.65. There is still an additional cost to purchase à la carte items such as snacks, bottled water, extra portions and secondary beverages.
It is important to note that the no-cost breakfast and lunch program is not retroactive. Any negative debt incurred prior to December 1, 2023, will remain on the student’s account until payment is received.
Previously, only certain families qualified for free meals through New York State. I want to thank Director of School Food Services Patrick Rodia and his assistant, Christine Foltmer, for ensuring that every child who was previously eligible for free meals was enrolled. Their efforts made our entire school district qualify under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and receive the funding granted by the New York State Education Department. Now, what was once limited to a few students is available to all.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below. If you have any questions, please contact the Food Services Department at: email@example.com
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)?
A: The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a funding option under the National School Lunch Act that allows eligible schools to provide free meals to all students.
Q: Do I need to fill out an application for my child to receive meals at no cost?
A: No, families do not need to fill out an application for their child to gain eligibility for breakfast and lunch at no cost.
Q: What does CEP cover for my child?
A: With the CEP designation, all Carmel Central School District (CCSD) enrolled students can receive one healthy breakfast and one nutritious lunch per school day.
Q: I am new to the District and/or the Food Services program - what does a healthy lunch entail for my child? What about breakfast?
A: A healthy lunch always consists of five components: a protein, grain, fruit, vegetable, and milk. To be considered a full meal, children must choose at least three of these components, including either a fruit or vegetable. A full breakfast consists of four components: two grains (main entree), one cup of fruit/juice or a vegetable, one cup of milk. Students must choose three of the four components offered with one of those components being a fruit/juice or vegetable.
Q: Can my child still purchase snacks and à la carte items? What about a second breakfast or lunch?
A: Yes, snacks and à la carte items (including milk) are available. However, students will need cash or funds in their prepaid accounts to make these purchases. Also, only the first breakfast and first lunch of the day are free. A student would need cash or funds in their prepaid accounts to pay for a second breakfast or lunch.
Q: How can I add funds to my child’s account to make those types of purchases?
A: You can add funds by sending a check or cash in with your child or virtually through MySchoolBucks, an online school meal payment system. To avoid the fee, students can always pay with cash for their purchase. In addition, parents may send in a check or cash to be added to the student’s prepaid account.
Q: What if I already have money in my child's account for meals? Can I get it back?
A: Parents can either request a refund from the Food Services Department or leave the funds in their student’s account for à la carte items or snacks. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a refund. Please include the first name, last name, and ID # of the student. Also, include parent/guardian name and address where the reimbursement check should be mailed. Please note that depending on the volume of requests, refunds may take up to 45 days to process. If there is an automatic replenishment of funds set up on your student's MySchoolBucks account, please discontinue this feature before requesting meal account reimbursement.
Q: What if there is negative debt left on my child’s account?
A: Free breakfasts and lunches are not retroactive, and any negative debt incurred prior to December 1, 2023, will remain in the student’s account until payment is received.
Q: What if my child brings their own lunch and just wants some milk or a piece of fruit?
According to State guidelines, to access the free meal benefit, a child must take what counts as a full meal, which means choosing at least three of the five components (including a fruit or vegetable) that make up the meal. Food Services staff will guide your child in understanding what constitutes a full meal.
Q: Does funding for school meals come out of my school taxes?
A: No, meals and food at schools are not funded by your school tax dollars. Instead, the funding comes from Federal and State taxes.