main content starts hereSchool Meal FAQs

Just how healthy are school meals?

All meals are lower in fat and provide balanced servings from each food group. School lunches provide half of the recommended allowances for calories, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. In recent years, Mohonasen has increased its use of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. And nothing is fried; everything is baked – even the fries!

What are the prices for school meals?

It depends on the school your child attends. For elementary children, breakfasts costs $1.00 and lunches are $3.00. Middle school breakfast is $1.50 and high school breakfast is $1.75. Student lunches are $3.25 at both the Middle School and the High School.

Can students pre-pay for meals?

Yes – and parents will save money doing so since children earn one free lunch for every 20 that are paid for in advance. The cost for the prepaid plan is $60 for 21 elementary lunches and $65 for 21 lunches at the middle and high school. Parents can send payment to school with their child, mail a check to the Mohonasen Food Service Program, 2072 Curry Road, Schenectady, NY 12303, or pay online at (PayPAMS now has an App for Android phones!). Children are given a pin number to type into a computer keypad as they go through the cafeteria line and the cost of the meal is automatically deducted from their account. Cafeteria workers help remind students when their account is getting low. Pin numbers may not be used to purchase snack items. This system helps parents control how kids spend their lunch money and cuts down on the number of kids who lose their lunch money. Parents of students using the prepay policy may also obtain a copy of account activity showing which days students purchase meals.

What if we can’t afford school meals?

Students may be eligible for free or reduced price lunches if their families meet federal guidelines. The application only takes a minute to fill out and can be done at any time during the school year. Students are given pin numbers just like everyone else so their peers and food service workers are not aware which children are receiving free or reduced price lunches. To obtain a copy of the application, call the food office at 518-356-8225, e-mail us with your address and we’ll mail it directly, or download the Free and Reduced Priced Meals Application.

Applications should be submitted to Kim Gagnon, Food Service Director, Mohonasen Central School District, 2072 Curry Road, Schenectady, NY 12303.

NOTE: Families who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals are also income-eligible for the WIC program. WIC is a special supplemental food program that provides food and nutrition education for pregnant, breast-feeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to the age of five. To learn more about WIC, receive an application and/or make an appointment to enroll, call the Schenectady County WIC clinic at 518.346.8818.

Why does the federal government require students to take a fruit or a vegetable?

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is based on recommendations from the 2009 Institute of Medicine Report called “School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children.” One important recommendation for improving childhood and adult nutrition is to increase the amount and the variety of fruits and vegetables in our diet. As it applies to school lunches, the theory is that by requiring students to choose a fruit or vegetable for lunch, eating this healthy food will eventually become a habit.

Why does the district have to increase prices?

Federal law requires that the average price paid for school lunch be at or above the current federal meal reimbursement rate. The intent of the law is to ensure that sufficient funds are provided for paid lunches. After calculating the 2019-2020 average price, it has been determined that the district will need to increase any lunch prices in 2020-2021 to qualify for reimbursement. The district’s prices remain comparable to surrounding school districts.

How does my student get breakfast?

Students will be asked on the bus if they are getting breakfast.  If they are getting breakfast the student exits the bus and goes to the cafeteria.  They input their school lunch pin number in at the register exactly the same as at lunch.

Breakfast is served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. at our elementary schools and the food service staff will wait if they know a bus hasn’t arrived yet. At the middle school, breakfast is served from 7 to 7:39 a.m. At the high school level, students have access to breakfast from 7 to 7:30 a.m. in Cafeteria B, while seniors and study hall students can eat breakfast until 9:40 a.m.

What are the policies on “charging” meals?

With the new “No Shaming” regulations, cashiers are not allowed to speak to students about their school meal account balance at all.  They are not allowed to inform a student of a low balance or ask if they have money for lunch.  Please sign up for PayPams so that the parent can monitor the student’s account balance.  Our communication about lunch account balances can only be with the parent or guardian.  If you do have a negative balance you will receive a courtesy reminder phone call until the balance has been paid.

The goal of the Mohonasen Food Service Department is to provide students access to nutritious no- or low-cost meals each school day and to ensure that a student whose parent/guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed or treated differently than a student whose parent/guardian does not have unpaid meal fees.

Unpaid charges place a large financial burden on the school district. The policy is designed to meet federal requirements for the USDA Child Nutrition Program, and to provide oversight and accountability for the collection of outstanding student meal balances to ensure that no student is stigmatized, distressed or embarrassed by an unpaid bill.

The intent of the policy is to establish standard procedures to address unpaid meal charges throughout the Mohonasen Central Schools. The provisions of this policy pertain to regular priced reimbursable school breakfast and lunch meals only. Mohonasen provides this policy as a courtesy to students in the event that they forget or lose their money. Charging of items outside of the reimbursable meals (a la carte items including snacks, adult meals, beverages, etc.) is expressly prohibited.

Families are obligated to pay any outstanding balance in a timely manner. Those who have difficulty meeting this obligation are strongly encouraged to fill out the Free and Reduced Priced Meals Application so their student can receive free or reduced-cost meals every day throughout the year. The application process is simple. Families who need help, or are not sure if they qualify, should contact the Food Services Department directly at 518.356.8225.

Why aren’t students allowed to purchase snacks if they owe money on their lunch account?

In the past, we’ve found that if students are allowed to charge lunch and then buy snack, students will use their money intended for lunch to instead by snacks. This creates issues with parents who send money for lunch only. In order to assure that your student is able to purchase snacks, please make sure their lunch accounts are not in the negative. All snack items must be purchased with cash. Lunch accounts may be monitored for FREE through or by calling the food service office at 518.356.8225.

What if I want my middle or elementary school student to purchase extra lunch items (e.g. milk, extra slice of pizza, soup) on their lunch accounts?

Please send a letter to the cashier giving your permission yearly. This does not apply at the high school level OR to snack items at any level.

Non-discrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: How to File a Complaint, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

1. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

2. Fax: 202.690.7442; or

3. Email: