Frequently Asked Questions

  • Our Mission

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District 's Food and Nutrition Services Department's mission is to actively contribute to the learning and health of children, district staff, and other eligible customers by preparing, marketing and serving foods that follow dietary guidelines for Americans, as published by the California State Department of Education (1985). Nutritious meals will be offered at a reasonable price while maintaining a financially accountable program.

    Mission Statement adopted by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education on August 25, 1986.

    Can parents pre-pay for their children's lunch?
    Absolutely! We encourage parents to prepay for the child's meals.
    Prepayments must be received by 10:00 a.m. (school office) in order for your child's account balance to be credited for same day meal service (lunch). Parents are encouraged to pay online at:
    Food & Nutrition Services will no longer offer a "meal deal."
    Please note: Prepayments will first be applied to your child's negative balance; the remaining balance will then be available for the purchase of nutritious meals. Parents are encouraged to check their child's account balance by contacting the school Cafeteria Lead or by calling the Food & Nutrition Services Central Office.

    Can I pay online for my child’s meals?
    Food & Nutrition Services encourages parents to pay online at:
    Important Notice: There is a fee of $2.75 per transaction associated with MySchoolBucks. However, if parents have more than one child at a school, if they select each child before associating a funding amount, they will only be charged the transaction fee once. For example, if Ms. Smith has two children at Franklin, she would select both children and then enter the amount for each child and finish the process; Ms. Smith will only be charged one fee. If she funds each child individually, she is charged twice. If a parent has children at two different schools, the $2.75 fee will be applied to each transaction.

    What are the meal prices for this school year?
    Individual meal prices for this school year are as follows:
    Elementary: $1.75
    Secondary (Middle & High School): $2.00
    Adult - (All Schools): $4.25   
    Elementary: $3.75
    Secondary (Middle & High School): $4.25
    Adult - (All Schools): $5.75     
    Is it mandatory for my child to purchase a meal in the cafeteria?
    Food & Nutrition Services is required to offer at least one meal per school day at each of our schools. It is optional for your child to participate; your child can participate as often as you choose! We take great pride in our program and the contribution we make to feeding the future!

    Does Food & Nutrition Services conduct a nutritional analysis of all menu items?
    As a matter of fact, we do!
    Food & Nutrition Services uses specialized software to analyze all food items and menus. Our menus and ala carte food items are in full compliance with Federal and State regulations, including the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 and Smart Snacks in Schools, as well as the District’s Wellness Policy!

    Are fresh fruit and vegetables available for my child to enjoy?
    Not only does Food & Nutrition Services offer a wide variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables in our salad bars and our prepackaged salads, in addition, we offer at least two vegetable and two fruit choices on our lunchline on a daily basis. All servings of fruit and vegetables equal 1/2 cup! It’s easy for your child to make half of his/her plate of fruits and vegetables!

    Is my child required to take a fruit or vegetable when enjoying a nutritious meal in the cafeteria?
    All students who enjoy a nutritious lunch in the cafeteria will automatically be served a 1/2 cup of vegetables or 1/2 cup of fruit! At breakfast, your child will automatically be served a 1/2 cup of fruit!

    What is Cool Lunch in elementary schools?
    Cool Lunch is a combination of our hot lunch and fruit/vegetable selections from the Farmers' Market Salad Bar.
    The idea came from a SMMUSD student who told his parents that he enjoyed eating the "Cool Lunch" at school! When asked what the "Cool Lunch" was, he proudly told them "the Farmers' Market Salad Bar!"

    Does the FNS department prepare brand-name products?
    We prepare, offer and serve a variety of brand name food items that are familiar to our customers, including, but not limited to: Tyson Chicken, Jennie O Turkey, Foster Farms, Land O Lakes, Malt O Meal Cereals, Smuckers Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Nestle, General Mills, Malt-O-Meal, Pillsbury, Upstate Farms Yogurt, Ling's (the same company that makes Chinese food for Trader Joes!), Schwan's (Tony's & Red Baron Pizza).

    My child loves the orange chicken you serve. Is this something I can purchase at my local supermarket?
    We purchase our orange chicken from the same company that makes Trader Joe's Orange Chicken! Enjoy!

    Does Food & Nutrition Services offer vegetarian meals or choices on a daily basis?
    Not only do we offer fresh fruit and vegetable salads in all of our schools, but we also offer hot vegetarian choices in our elementary schools IN ADDITION to our regular hot lunch menu! Our secondary students have a wide variety of menu options that include vegetarian entrees, including pre-packaged fresh fruit and vegetable salads!

    Do the food and beverages offered by Food & Nutrition Services comply with the District’s Wellness Policy?
    All food and beverages offered by Food & Nutrition Services comply with the District’s Wellness Policy as well as Senate Bills 12 & 965. We are also in compliance with all National School Breakfast & Lunch Program regulations, including the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 and Smart Snacks in Schools.

    What types of milk does Food & Nutrition Services offer in the cafeteria?
    We offer a variety of chilled milk: 1% white milk, non-fat white milk and non-fat chocolate milk (lunch only).
    If you would like to ensure that your child does not take non-fat chocolate milk (only offered at lunch), you can “opt out” by sending us an email at: You must provide us with your child’s full name, ID #, grade and school. It can take up to three days for us to process your request and it is important that you remind your child that should he/she take non-fat chocolate milk (lunch only), the milk will be removed from his/her plate and will be replaced with non-fat white milk.

    Does the FNS department do business with Santa Monica and Los Angeles-owned companies?
    Our partnership with the Santa Monica Farmer's Market is one example of how we do business with local companies. We also are proud of our partnerships with Santa Monica and Los Angeles area-owned companies, like: Papa John's, Spruzzo’s Restaurant (Malibu), Gold Star Foods, P&R Paper, A&R Distributors, Smart & Final, Berkeley Street Beverage, Driftwood Dairy.

    What happens if my child’s account is negative? Will my child still be allowed to eat?
    With regard to the negative balance, parents are solely responsible for paying the negative balance and for monitoring their child’s account balance. Food & Nutrition Services will send account balance notices on a regular basis and will also email and/or call using the District’s automated calling system (BlackBoard Connect). All positive and negative balances, including meal credits, rollover from one school year to the next.

    What happens if I receive a Non-Sufficient Fun (NSF) notice for a payment made by personal check at the school cafeteria?
    When we receive the NSF check, we will contact you via US Mail. You will be charged a $10 processing fee and will be responsible for paying for all outstanding debts and meals enjoyed by your child; any credits made to your child's account will be reversed. All future payments must be made in cash, money order or cashier's check; personal checks will no longer be accepted for the remainder of the school year.

    When can parents submit an application for Free and Reduced Price Meal Benefits?
    Throughout the school year!
    Food & Nutrition Services accepts and processes Free & Reduced Price Meal Applications throughout the school year. If you've submitted an application previously and your circumstances have changed or if you've never submitted an application and your circumstances have changed…don't hesitate to submit a new application! Applications are available on our website, in the school office or in the Food & Nutrition Services Central Office.

    Does SMMUSD - Food & Nutrition Services use deep-fat fryers for preparing food sold in the cafeteria or on food carts?
    SMMUSD Food & Nutrition Services does not prepare any food items in deep fat fryers.

    Does SMMUSD - Food & Nutrition Services prepare, sell, or serve food items containing artificial transfats?
    SMMUSD Food & Nutrition Services does not sell or serve any food item containing artificial trans-fat. A food item contains artificial trans-fat if it contains vegetable shortening, margarine, or any kind of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, unless the manufacturer's documentation or the nutrition facts label required, pursuant to applicable federal and State law, lists the trans-fat content as less than 0.5 grams per serving.

    Does SMMUSD - Food & Nutrition Services prepare, sell, or serve food items that have been deep fried, par fried, or flash fried in palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, or similar?
    SMMUSD Food & Nutrition services does not prepare, sell or serve any food item that, as part of the manufacturing process, has been deep fried, par fried, or flash fried in palm oil, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, or other oils or fats that are typically solid at room temperature and that are known to negatively impact cardiovascular health.
    The only oils SMMUSD Food & Nutrition Services uses or permits manufacturers to use include, but are not limited to, canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, olive, soybean, peanut, or a blend of these oils, typically liquid at room temperature and that are known for their positive cardiovascular benefit.

    What is the National School Lunch Program, and is the District required to offer lunches at all K-12 schools?
    The National School Lunch Program serves nutritious meals to K-12 students at little or no cost. In California, all public schools must make at least one such meal per day available to any enrolled student who is determined to be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.

    I have a question, suggestion, compliment, or comment about the Food & Nutrition Services program. Is there a phone number/email address where I can contact you?
    If you'd like to call, please dial: 310 450 8338 ext 70228. If you'd like to email us, please send your email to: