SUSD’s Nutrition Services Eliminates Reduced Lunch Fee — 800 Students Could Benefit

For many years, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has charged $0.40 per lunch to students who qualify under federal guidelines for a reduced-price meal. Beginning with the 2019–20 school year that starts Aug. 5, SUSD will waive that $0.40 fee for participating students, offering them lunch at no charge. SUSD already waives reduced-price breakfast fees.

In the 2018–19 school year, nearly 800 SUSD students qualified for reduced-price meals.

SUSD Nutrition Services Director Patti Bilbrey says SUSD is pleased to be able to assist families that depend on school meals through the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act in a new way.

“We saw a growing need in the community of families that used to qualify for free meals just missing the cutoff and moving into the reduced-meal category,” says Bilbrey. “We never want to see a student go without a meal, so we worked out a plan to be able to waive lunch fees to help these families in need.”

Bilbrey says that the combination of the Jan. 2019 increase in Arizona’s minimum wage to $11 an hour and no change in federal poverty guidelines has resulted in some families now having too much income to qualify their students for meals for the upcoming school year. More than 5,000 SUSD students qualified for the free meal program last school year.

“Because we run Nutrition Services like a business, keeping a strict eye on our costs and ensuring that we are not wasting food by making too much, we have the fiscal strength to be able to waive these fees,” Bilbrey says. “It’s the right thing to do for our families.”

Families must apply and meet federal income guidelines every school year in order for their students to receive free or reduced-price school meals. Their previous year’s status is good for 30 days into the new school year, but they must re-apply within that time in order to continue. Applications for the 2019–20 school year can be completed online at or by downloading a paper application at that same link and turning it in at the student’s school.

SUSD’s Nutrition Services offers meals on each of the district’s 29 school campuses throughout the school year and during summer programming. On average, it serves 11,000 meals per school day and more than 2 million meals throughout the school year.

For additional information about the Scottsdale Unified School District, visit

Photo by USDAgov on / CC BY

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