APS Column: Sign up for free and reduced lunch

Published 6:32 pm Friday, August 19, 2022

By Mary Weikum

Director of Food and Nutrition

The Food and Nutrition Department at Austin Public Schools is busy preparing for the 2022-23 school year. After two plus years of free meals for all students, we will be returning to a more typical meal delivery system.

Lunches will no longer be free for all students. Families may qualify for free lunches based on information provided to the school via the Educational Benefits Application. It is important that we receive these applications in a timely manner to ensure that if you do qualify for these meals, your family is set to go on the first day of school.

The application is available on the Food & Nutrition page of the Austin Public School’s website at www.austin.k12.mn.us. You can also access an on-line version at this site, which is a quick and easy way to complete this process. Again, we do encourage all families to complete this application.

If you do not qualify for free meals, you will be able to make lunch payments through your parent portal. This is a new software for the Food & Nutrition Department, but one that has been used in other areas of the district for many years. On the first day of school, you will be able to go to the school store and make a lunch deposit. Lunch prices are $2.60 for grades PK-4, $2.70 for grades 5-8 and $2.80 for grades 9-12. Breakfast will remain free for all students.

You will receive low balance reminders through your parent portal also. This is going to be a great way to communicate and to help you keep track of your student meals. There will no longer be notes coming home in backpacks, so it is important that you check out these portal messages.

The Lunch Tray Project is a tool used to help families who just miss qualifying for free meals after completing the Educational Benefits Application. As we process the applications, we will distribute funds to families who may have too much income to qualify for free meals but may still struggle with lunch costs. You may receive a call from our office letting you know that all or some of your student lunch needs will be provided thru The Lunch Tray Project.

The Lunch Tray Project is entirely funded through donations. If you would like to donate to help a family with school meals, you can go to the APS website’s Food & Nutrition page to find a link. You could also send a check to our office at 301 Third Street NW, attention Food & Nutrition.

If, at any time, you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call me at 460-1919 or email me at mary.weikum@austin.k12.mn.us.  We are excited to begin another school year and look forward to seeing your kids in the lunch line!