In 2010 Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act to update school meal nutrition requirements. The USDA requires that the new school meal standards reflect the latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” These guidelines are based on independent, expert recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to ensure kids are being fed healthy food while they are at school. The new meal requirements emphasize whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products, with limits on sodium, saturated fat, trans fat, and calories.
The Denver Public Schools SchoolCafé contains the monthly menus with nutrition and allergens listed for each item served for breakfast or lunch. Last-minute menu changes are occurring frequently and are out of our control due to nationwide food supply chain issues. Menus in SchoolCafe may not reflect these changes. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time. If you have any questions regarding your school’s menu, feel free to reach out to the cafeteria manager.
During the 2022/23 school year, all students will be able to receive a complete breakfast for no charge. Lunches are no longer “free” for all students due to the expiration of federal pandemic waivers. Households must qualify for their students to receive a “free” lunch. Students must bring money or have money in their MySchoolBucks accounts to purchase things like second entrees and/or a la carte items. All families are still strongly encouraged to complete an application for their household as the information determines critical funding for Denver Public Schools.
We have two chefs on staff as well as two Registered Dietitians on staff. They form a menu planning team and evaluate menu offerings each year. This year we are pleased to offer a menu for elementary schools and a slightly different one for secondary schools. Each menu offers two daily rotating hot entrees (one which is a vegetarian entree) as well as one to two other options. Together we offer more than (70) unique entrees. Our menus meet the USDA nutritional requirements as well as meeting the preferences of our students. Each year we test and add new items that reflect the cultural diversity of our students. A few examples include: chicken shawarma, barbacoa bowl, falafel wrap and chorizo mac and cheese.
Over ten years ago, DPS implemented a scratch cooking program and every kitchen employee attends a 3-week scratch cooking class within a year of their hire. About 60% of our lunch items are scratch or speed scratch made at the school. We believe that items made and served at each school are healthier, tastier and more nutritious for DPS students.
The National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture. A complete meal, meeting nutrient content and portion size requirements, allows the Food and Nutrition Services department to receive benefits (money and USDA foods) and is referred to as “a reimbursable meal.”
School meal components include: milk (fat-free or 1%, unflavored and fat-free flavored ); meat/meat alternate; bread/grains; fruit; and vegetables. The most nutritious meals contain all of the components and students have the option to select the items they will eat that meet the component requirements.
At breakfast, schools are required to offer 4 components (some items are 2 components) and students must take at least 3. At lunch 5 components must be offered and students must take at least 3. Milk is one of the components and students are not required to take it.
DPS allows each school leader to determine the class schedule for their school. Food and Nutrition Services recommends a minimum 30-minute block for lunch, but the final decision is made by the school leader.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program is a federal program, not a DPS program, created to provide additional funds for families to buy food when schools were closed or on a remote or hybrid learning model due to COVID-19.