UPDATED Information Specific to
SCHOOL YEAR 2020-2021 in Food Service
Dear Parker Families,
I hope everyone is settling into the new routine for this school year. I would like to update you by sharing some additional information on food service this year at Parker and beyond. The USDA, through the extension of a summer meals program, has announced approval of a waiver that makes all students eligible for free meals. Meals will be available for all students ages 0-21 at no cost until at least December 30, 2020 or until it is no longer fiscally or legally possible.
It will be very helpful to our staff if you register for meals so we can plan for approximate numbers – link located below. For the days you register for meals at Parker, your child will receive breakfast and lunch. Our site is operating as an open site registered on Project Bread’s meal finder site (click here to check it out). This means we will not only serve our Parker community but will serve the wider community during this severe food shortage. If you are in need, I recommend you look at the Project Bread Meal Finder as you may find other open sites like our own that are more convenient for you based on locations or times served. You can utilize any open site listed. Since we are operating as an open site, we must serve meals on a first come, first served basis. Children and teens can get free meals at hundreds of locations throughout the state, no registration or ID required! Meals will be available as late as December 31, 2020. Locations are continuously added and updated—if you do not see a location near you, please check back regularly. To find other food resources, please call Project Bread's FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or visit:
During remote plus learning we will serve meals to be picked up at Parker. On Tuesday, students or parents will be able to pick up breakfast and lunch for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday, students and parents will be able to pick up meals for Friday and Monday. Pick up hours will be from 7 – 9 AM on Tuesday and Fridays. Meals will be picked on the left side of the school near the loading dock as it is the closest entrance to the school kitchen. Students do not have to be present for meal pickup.
Please fill out the following form to select the days you would like your child to receive free meals, as it will better help us plan to have enough food available to those interested, even though we must serve on a first come, first served basis. If you need to change your selection, please email Debbie Bush or I (contact info below).
Student Meal Registration
This form will be continuously available for others to join as needed. Please email if you need to change a previous selection rather than submitting a duplicate form. All forms previously submitted will continue to be counted in our tally.
We still strongly encourage families to fill out household applications for free and reduced lunch if they feel they may be eligible based on income levels. There may be future changes to program options given the potential end to the federal waiver as explained above. Once the waiver ends, students will be charged $4 for lunch and $2 for breakfast as was the case in previous years. Having a paper application on file will also allow students to qualify for any additional benefits and ensure a seamless transition when schools move back to a paid program (if the waiver is not extended for January to June 2021). Household applications are available to download on our website.
In addition, we also encourage families to apply for SNAP benefits. SNAP provides monthly cash benefits (on an EBT card) to purchase groceries for eligible families. To apply for SNAP, visit www.startwithsnap.org or call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. If you are unsure whether your family is eligible, the FoodSource Hotline can assist you with eligibility questions. Families approved for SNAP are directly eligible to receive free meals at school and do not need to fill out an application for free and reduced-price meals.
Should you have any questions regarding the lunch program and meal selection, please contact Debbie Bush, Nutrition Coordinator, email@example.com, or 978-772-3293 ext 146.
Pandemic Food Assistance/ Pandemic – EBT (P-EBT)
In December, Massachusetts became the first state to receive federal approval to issue Pandemic EBT benefits (P-EBT) for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. P-EBT promotes increased food security for families whose children are in hybrid or remote learning environments and who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program. P-EBT is a joint effort between the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), DESE, and individual school districts. P-EBT benefits are paid out on the 25th of each month. On that day, benefits will be loaded to the account of families who have an existing card. Families new to P-EBT who do not yet have a card will receive one in the mail sometime after the 25th (allow for up to two weeks for mailing), unless they receive DTA benefits (SNAP, TAFDC). Those newly eligible households will receive P-EBT on their DTA EBT card.
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) | Mass.gov – information on eligibility and how to apply, receive, and use benefits
FAQs — Massachusetts P-EBT (map-ebt.org) – Frequently asked questions regarding P-EBT
Massachusetts P-EBT (map-ebt.org) – Information about P-EBT cards (lost card, card pinning, card issues) and timing of funds issuance
Get Help (projectbread.org) or (800) 645-8333 for information on access to other food assistance
DTA Assistance Line at (877) 382-2363
The Parker Cafeteria
About Our Program
Parker is pleased to offer parents the ability to manage their child’s nutrition account over the Internet by using PaySchools Central, an online school management tool. This service benefits schools, parents and students. Cashiers will be able to move the payment line quicker; parents and guardians do not have to worry about the money not reaching school and students never have to worry about carrying cash or losing meal tickets.
With PaySchools Central, parents and guardians can log in at any time to make a deposit to their child’s account, view their child’s account balance, set up recurring deposits to their child’s account, set up e-mail notifications when their child’s account falls below a certain dollar amount, or request a report showing what the child has purchased on their account. In order to create your child’s nutrition account, an ID number is necessary. Parents of new students will receive this ID number before setting up their child's account. Parents of returning students should have already received this number. Please let us know if you need it again.
Payments processed before 9:00 pm ET should post to the student’s account the next morning, in most cases. Payments made the same morning will post to the student account the following day. Checks and cash will still be accepted to be deposited into your child’s nutrition account at the office.
Transactions processed by PaySchools Central are safe and secure using Secure Socket Link, SSL, technology with Digicert. With this technology, schools can be assured that all student information, credit card information and all other student data will be highly encrypted and secure. There is a transaction fee that is assessed to each transaction. The fee is only charged when you add money to your child’s account. You can view their account balance and see what they have purchased without having to incur this fee. If you have multiple children enrolled at Parker, you can add money to each child’s nutrition account during the same transaction. However, if you have multiple children at Parker, you cannot transfer funds online between your children’s accounts, but if you contact the Business Office, we can transfer the funds for you.
Below are a series of questions and answers detailing this lunch system.
If you have any questions, please contact:
Michelle McKenna (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Cathy Pearlman (email@example.com).
As you know, Parker does things differently, and that includes school lunch. We work hard to make "from scratch" meals everyone will enjoy, made the way you would at home; fresh, nutritious, visually appealing and tasty. We buy quality products from reputable vendors, small companies, local stores and farms. We source products that fit into a healthy menu and a healthy planet. We buy food without preservatives, high fructose corn syrup or high sodium content. We use recycled and recyclable paper products and this year have moved to biodegradable cornstarch based flatware instead of plastic. Most of our plastic cups are corn based material.
Our child nutrition online payment and account maintenance system is through PaySchools Central.
2020-2021 pricing will be $2.00 for breakfast and $4.00 for lunch.
- Breakfast is $2.00 and includes a choice of one item from the daily menu, a piece of fruit, and a drink.
- Lunch is $4.00 and includes a choice of the daily entree, sandwich or salad bar, all sides, a piece of fruit, and a drink.
We offer satisfying portions and the students are encouraged to take as many sides as they like.
Salad as an Entree is the same price as a regular lunch - $4.00 and includes a serving of protein (chicken, beans, cheese, tofu, etc), a roll, a piece of fruit, and dessert if we have one that day. Additional portion of protein may be purchased at $1.25.
Reduced cost / no cost meals are available. The reduced costs are $0.40 for lunch and $0.30 for breakfast. The free and reduced meal application can be downloaded here, or picked up from the front office.
Lunch Program Registration Reminders:
- All payments not made online at PaySchools Central should be brought to the office first thing in the morning, especially if the account balance is low enough that the child may not be able to purchase lunch or breakfast any longer.
- All students will need their Student ID Card.
- Please check balances regularly and be sure you have money on your account. It is expected that any account with a negative balance be funded promptly.
- Participants with a low or excessively negative balance will not be able to purchase lunch in line, and will instead be asked to visit the kitchen to receive a "courtesy lunch" after the lunch line has been served. According to the USDA, we are legally obligated to collect any owed funds from a served reimbursable meal.
- All other information/details may be read in the Q&A below.
Questions and Answers About Our Point of Sale
and Online School Nutrition Account System
What is the Point of Sale System (POS)?
Beginning the fall of 2017, Parker implemented a Point of Sale system (POS) allowing students to have lunch accounts. This system looks and feels similar to that of the system your children had in elementary school. It integrates with Rediker, our current student information management system.
Why are ID cards going to be important?
Students will be using their ID cards to pay at the register. It will be important for the students to carrying their ID cards on their person on a daily basis! Staff and students will receive digital images of their personal Parker ID. The image will be sent to their Parker email address. In addition, physical ID’s will be handed out in advisory. If a student loses or forgets an ID but has a smart phone, there is no excuse for not presenting their ID in the lunch line. These digital IDs can be saved and opened on smart phones as the students are waiting in the service line. If you would like a replacement of a lost physical ID, please see Nicky Dudensing in the Principal’s Office. The cost to replace a physical ID is $5. If your child needs assistance finding their digital ID, they should visit the Technology Office. Remember, the more kids with their cards ready, the smoother lunch service will go.
What if my child loses their ID card?
They should see Nicky Dudensing immediately for a replacement. They can also use the digital ID provided, if they have a smart phone. If they do not have a smart phone, until a new card arrives (after requesting one from Nicky) the cashier at each register will be able to look up your child’s account using their pin number or name. When the cards are swiped at the registers, the photos on the account matched to the person making the purchase. We are trying our very best to assure that the account is only being accessed by the proper student.
How do I create my student’s nutritional account?
You have been provided your child’s unique ID number. Please reach out to the Business Office if you need it again. This number will be needed to create your child’s nutritional account. Once these emails are received parents and guardians will be able to set up the nutrition accounts, put money onto their student’s nutrition accounts, setup reminders, and setup auto refill options. If you have lost or misplaced the ID number please reach out to Michelle McKenna or Cathy Pearlman.
How much are school lunches?
In the 2018-2019 school year, Parker’s nutrition program costs will be lunch $4.00 and breakfast $2.00.
Will cash be still be accepted at the registers?
We are no longer accepting cash or checks at the register. All payments not made online at PaySchools Central should be brought to the office first thing in the morning, especially if the account balance is low enough that the child may not be able to purchase lunch or breakfast any longer.
Can one pay for their Sibling or their Friend with their nutrition account?
No. Students cannot and will not be allowed use their ID card to pay for a friend’s lunch. In addition, they are not allowed to pay for their sibling’s lunch either due to the fact the cashier cannot identify in the POS system who are siblings. If funds are needed to be transferred between sibling accounts please contact the Business Office to assist you.
Is there a transaction fee for using the service?
Yes, the fee is $1.95 for ACH (banks accounts) and 4.75% for credit cards per transactions. You can still chose to send a check in to school, if you wish to avoid these fees. Checks should be made payable to The Parker Charter School.
How long will it take for my deposit to be reflected into the system?
Payments processed before 9:00 PM ET should post to the student’s account the next morning, in most cases. Payments made the same morning will post to the student account the following day.
Can I still fund my child’s nutrition account with cash?
Yes. Checks and cash will still be accepted to be deposited into your child’s nutrition account.
Will I be notified if my child’s balance is running low?
Yes. When creating your child’s account, parents and guardians are able to set up recurring deposits and set up e-mail notifications when their child’s account falls below a certain dollar amount. In addition, the Business Office will be sending notices home as well once the account gets to a low balance.
What if I forget to add money to my child’s nutrition account, and the balance is too low to pay for a breakfast or lunch?
The system will allow account to go slightly negative for just these types of situations. It is expected that the account be funded as soon as possible. Parker will no longer be allowing negative balances in the range of $50-100 in the program, as it violates best practice. Please be aware that if the balance on your child’s account becomes excessively low – below $12, you will get an immediate phone call from the school. We do not want to embarrass the children, but we NEED accounts funded in a timely manner. As always, please reach out to the Business Office or Parker’s website for the Free and Reduced lunch application at any point during the school year.
What if my child or children currently qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch and Breakfast?
Their free and reduced lunch status is automatically built into the system. When your child is at the register, they will still need to present their Student IDs. In an effort to maintain confidentiality, no one, not even the child, will be aware that a purchase is part of the free and reduced program other than the cashier handling the transaction. Also please be very aware that the Free and Reduced lunch program also only covers one full lunch and one full breakfast per day. If your child on free or reduced lunch wishes for more than what comprises the meal, they will be required to pay full price for the additional items.
What if my child withdraws or graduates from Parker and has a balance on their nutrition account?
All balances will be refunded, OR, parents or guardians may choose to transfer the balance to an enrolled sibling’s nutrition account, or to donate the balance back to the school.
Public Release Statement
Francis Parker Charter Essential School announced its policy for free and reduced price lunch and breakfast for those students unable to pay the full price for meals and snacks under the National School Lunch & Breakfast Program. Please click here for a full version of our public release statement.
Please feel free to contact the Cafeteria with any questions (978-772-3293 x 146).
The Francis Parker Charter Essential School is publishing our compliance with the USDA Nondiscrimination requirements. Please click here for our full statement.
WIC is a nutrition program that provides healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to healthcare and other services, free of charge, to Massachusetts families who qualify.
Do you need help buying healthy food? You may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) administers SNAP benefits. SNAP provides a monthly benefit to buy nutritious foods. To get SNAP, you must be low-income and be a U.S. citizen or legal noncitizen (restrictions apply). Eligibility for SNAP benefits depends on financial and nonfinancial criteria.