App allows families to see menus, to pick favorites, watch for allergens
By KATIE HETRICK
For the Times-Herald
DEARBORN — Dearborn Public Schools will continue to offer all students free breakfast and lunch on school days, even as many other districts are forced to step away from that option.
Under the National School Lunch Program, Dearborn is able to use the Community Eligibility Provision to provide free meals to the majority of its K-12 students. Traditionally, the School Lunch Program allows schools to offer free or reduced priced meals to students who qualify based on household income.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowed all public schools to offer free meals to all students the past two years. That waiver expired this summer, which means most districts will return to free or reduced meals only for students who qualify.
Last year, DPS provided more than 2.2 million lunches to students and more than 721,000 breakfasts.
Free meals for all students presents one hiccup for the district. Family income is used as a factor in many federal and state funding programs. To still be eligible for that funding, DPS asks all families to complete a family income survey. Among the funding related to family income, the district expects to receive $16 million in state funds for at-risk students and $12.5 million in federal Title 1 dollars this year.
Kitchen upgrades, menu app
Student lunch and breakfast menus are posted for each school through the Nutrislice system at https://dearbornschools.nutrislice.com/menu and through the Nutrislice app. The system shows nutritional information and any potential allergens for each dish.
The app also allows students to provide feedback on meals they like or dislike. All district meals are halal and nut-free. Nutrislice also offers translated menus on the web page and app.
Over the summer, the DPS Food Service Department installed new large walk-in freezers at Geer Park, Miller, William Ford, Henry Ford, Haigh and Howard elementary schools; Stout Middle School; and Howe School. A ninth freezer for Snow Elementary was delayed due to supply chain issues.
The new freezers will allow the district to keep more food on hand and reduce the amount of food transported each day between different buildings. By law, the Food Service Department has a separate budget from the district’s general fund, so revenue raised by the food program must be reinvested back into that program. Upgrading the eight freezers was expected to cost about $2.8 million.
“We are excited to be gearing up for another year of serving our students healthy, appetizing meals, and are grateful that we can again offer free lunch and breakfast to our students,” Food Service Director Jeff Murphy said.