School Meals 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 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. 

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 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. 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 will exit the bus and go to the cafeteria. They will scan their tag or input their school lunch pin number at the register exactly the same as at lunch.

Breakfast is served from 8 to 8:35 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 7:35 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 9:15 a.m.

FYI, on two-hour snow day delays, breakfast will not be available at the elementary schools (Bradt and Pinewood).

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. Also, Mohonasen students who receive free or reduced price meals are given pin numbers– just like everyone else– so their peers are not aware which children are receiving free or reduced breakfast/lunches.

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 students 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.

Are students allowed to purchase snacks if they owe money on their lunch account?

At Mohonasen, students will not be told their account balance by food service employees, unless they specifically ask the cashier. Students are allowed to use their student accounts to purchase snacks, as well as use cash or check. If parents would like to place restrictions on their students’ accounts to limit or allow no access to their account to buy snacks, please contact the Food Service office via email, calling, or sending a letter with your student. Parents are encouraged to monitor their students’ meal accounts using their PayPAMS account or by calling the food service office at 518.356.8225.


In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g.Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf (link is external), from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted 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; or

2. fax:

(833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or