Frequently Asked Questions About Menus

  • Here are the questions that are most frequently asked regarding our menus. If you need additional information, please call (651) 603-4950.

    Where do I find the menu?

    Use the Interactive Menu to find out what's being served at your specific school and the nutritional information. 

    Peanut allergies

    In Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), we are “peanut-aware”, not peanut free. Student Health and Wellness and Nutrition Services make individual plans for students. We follow best practice recommendations from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s (FAAN) School Food Allergy Program.

    Saint Paul Board of Education (BOE) Policy:  Saint Paul Public Schools Wellness Policy (533.00)

    • Sharing of Foods and Beverages - Schools should not allow students to share their food or beverages with one another during meal or snack times, given concerns about allergies and other restrictions or some children's diets.
    • Nutrition Services shall provide students with access to a variety of affordable, nutritious, and appealing foods that meet the health and nutrition needs of students; shall accommodate the religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the student body in meal planning; shall accommodate the special dietary needs of students and shall provide clean, safe and pleasant settings, and adequate time for students to eat.

    School Staff:

    • Ensure annual training to school staff about allergies, anaphylaxis reactions and EpiPen® administration. (Required by MN Statute 121A.22 and 121A.2205)
    • Work with the parent/guardian and Health Care Provider (HCP) to develop a plan to accommodate the student’s needs.
    • Teach the student who to go to if having an allergic reaction.

    Licensed School Nurse (LSN):

    • Gather information and develop an Emergency Care Plan and Individual Health Plan (IHP).
    • Work with school staff (teacher, administrator, Nutrition Services, custodian) to identify any necessary accommodations.
    • Work with the building Section 504 Coordinator to develop Section 504 plan as appropriate.
    • Follow district policy/procedure for medication authorization and student Self-carry, Self-Administer procedures.
    • Provide or arrange for annual staff training.

    Nutrition Services:

    • Provide menus that identify peanut and other food ingredients.
    • Utilize the electronic PIN system to identify students with food allergies as they go through the school lunch line.


    • Work with LSN and staff to develop a plan to accommodate your child’s needs.
    • Provide the school with information from your Health Care Provider and authorization for emergency medication administration if needed.
    • Provide properly labeled medications and replace medications when expired.
    • Teach your child about their specific food allergies and their Individual Health Plan.
    • Determine and/or provide “safe” food for the child to eat. Teachers, school staff, or other parents/guardians should not be put into the position of deciding if a “food is safe” such as label reading for ingredients.

    Other allergies are handled in a similar way.  Find out the ingredients in your favorite dishes or see what items contain ingredients that you may be allergic to by going to our interactive menu.  Interactive Nutritional Information

    For more information contact:

    Mary Yackley
    Student Health and Wellness Coordinator


    Nutrition Services


    Yogurt: A common question we are asked is whether our yogurt contains a gelatin made with a pork by-product. We serve Upstate Farms yogurt which contains no gelatin, and is considered a Kosher product.

    Smoked Turkey: Another common question is about our smoked turkey products that are sometimes confused with ham as the color is similar. Smoked turkey is an ingredient in some of our sandwiches and wraps. This meat contains no pork or pork by-products.

    Baked Beans: Our Vegetarian baked beans do not contain any meat products or meat by-products.

    Pizza Toppings: Our pepperoni is made with beef only.

    Hot Dogs: Our hot dogs are made with turkey or beef

    Corn Dogs: Our corn dogs are made with chicken.

    Sun Chips: We serve only Original and French Onion Sun Chips which Frito Lay has documented as pork-free.

    If you have a concern about a product, check out our ingredient list on our website. If you have concerns about any of the listed ingredients or menu items, we can provide you with more detailed information. Please contact Nutrition Services at 651-603-4950.


    Vegetarian meals

    Several vegetarian entrees are served including Cheese Quesadilla with Guacamole and Veggie Lasagna. Watch our menus for entrees that have meatless choices, such as Tacos or Taco Salad with Beef or Refried Beans, Fajitas with Chicken or Refried Beans, Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, Italian Dunkers with Marinara Sauce, and Cheese or Veggie Pizza.

    Students can build a vegetarian or vegan salad of unlimited vegetables, fruits and legumes from the Choice Bar.

    Menu planning

    Menu planning is a team process and many factors need to be considered when planning menus. These factors include student acceptability of food items, dietary guidelines, cost, and production and serving logistics at both the Nutrition Center and school locations.

    The department's menu planning team includes school cafeteria supervisors, department management team members, and registered dietitians.

    Our Healthy Hits team meets weekly to discuss new menu ideas, nutrition and food trends. After tasting new recipes, we complete nutritional and cost analysis and work with our Nutrition Center staff to expand the recipe for large batches. At that point the real fun starts—we get to hold taste tests in schools to see what the students think! If they say the item is a hit, we go ahead and put it on the menu. If not, we head back to the test kitchen to make changes suggested by the students.

    Portion sizes

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) determines the portions by age group to better meet the food and nutritional needs of children. These serving standards are designed to give children at each age level 1/3 of their daily nutritional requirement at lunch. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, guided by the IOM and USDA recommendations for school lunches, created calorie ranges for breakfast and lunch for each age group. Those specific calorie ranges, and other ranges, can be found here.

    Our lunches include a variety of choices, packed with good nutrition, flavor and are value-priced. Students and staff can enjoy even more nutritious options on the Choice Bar. The Choice Bar features colorful salad greens, fruits, fresh vegetables and vegetarian protein items such as legumes and legume salads. Our fruits and vegetables are sourced from local farms whenever possible, and offer an array of choices to fulfill the new required fruit or vegetable component for a federally reimbursable meal.

    Studies have shown that most children do not consume the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. In order to help combat that deficit as well as promote healthy food choices, students are allowed to take as many servings of fruits, fresh vegetables and vegetarian protein items as they can eat.

    Those elementary students who do not want the menued entree can still choose a fresh-made wrap sandwich or they can choose to build an entree salad from the Choice Bar.


    Skim, lowfat chocolate, 1%, and lactose-free milk are offered daily. Lowfat chocolate is available at lunch only.

    A student (or parent/guardian on behalf of the student) can request lactose-reduced milk. This can be a verbal or written request. Supervisors order lactose-reduced milk on an as-needed basis. Note: Substituting juice for milk requires a medical statement.

    Offer vs. Serve

    Offer versus Serve (OVS) is a system designed to decrease food waste and give students greater flexibility in choosing what to eat for school breakfast or lunch. With the implementation of the 2012-2013 new guidelines based on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations, Offer versus Serve requirements will be modified as well.

    New OVS Lunch Requirements

    • Students must take a minimum of one half-cup of either the Fruit or Vegetable component.
    • Students may take two ¼ cup servings of the same item fruit or vegetable to meet the requirement
    • Students must be offered all five required components:
      1. Meat/Meat Alternate
      2. Fruit
      3. Vegetable
      4. Grains
      5. Fluid Milk
    • Students are allowed to decline two of the five required food components. The fruit or vegetable component may not be declined.

    New OVS Breakfast Requirements

    For a meal that is reimbursable under USDA regulations, students must be offered a breakfast that contains the following four components under OVS:

    • Milk
    • Fruit (or optional vegetable)
    • Grains
    • One additional item (can be meat or meat alternate if minimum grain has been met)

    Student must take 3 of the 4 components and one of these must be a fruit or vegetable (if offered). This ½ cup minimum can be a combination of fruits or vegetables (if offered).

    Goals of Offer Vs Serve

    • Students can make food selections, and will more likely eat what they select.
    • Students may take any combination as long as a fruit or vegetable is included.
    • Combination foods count as more than 1 food item.
    • Parents and other adults teach kids — by example — to make healthful choices.
    • We encourage students to select all foods offered.
    • Policy for extra portions at extra cost is unaffected by OVS.