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School Meals FAQs

Explore Food and Nutrition Services' frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to learn more about our organization. 

Please direct all general inquiries to [email protected]. All messages will be routed to the appropriate person. 



Where can we find more information about the “ideal diet” that families and children should be eating? 


A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts/seeds, legumes, and lean protein sources along with healthy fats from fish is an ideal diet. 


Check out the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) for additional information.

There is no way for us parents to know that the food being served is clean and made with whole/nutrient-dense foods. Can you tell us why we don't have access to an ingredient list for meals at school? 


The nutrient analysis for every menu is posted on the Food and Nutrition Services website along with the menus of each day’s offerings. Menus are listed by school site and include the nutrient analysis for each menu. See the image below for reference.




We’re currently working on a list of ingredients to “avoid/watch” that will be available on our website soon. 


Food and Nutrition Services has over 200+ items in inventory. Posting all of the ingredient labels on our website is a huge undertaking, made more difficult because suppliers deliver this information in different ways (imagine 200 spreadsheets, each with a different format of rows and columns, and then trying to export all of the information from each one to a single document). 


In addition, when supply chain disruptions occur, menu substitutions are made with compliant K-12 items.

Is there any evidence that increased time to eat at school can lead to better nutrition intake? 


The state legislature in Sacramento is currently looking into legislation for longer lunch periods. Advocating for your children to have longer meal times is an important step and we encourage you to let your state legislators know that it is important to you.


Have food deserts in high-poverty areas been accounted for regarding quality food accessibility? Do you believe limited access and affordability can impact choices?


 Outside of schools, there is a disparity in access to healthy foods. All students at San Diego Unified have access to quality, healthy, nutritious meals at breakfast and lunch regardless of socio-economic status, and demographics. What we serve for one student, we serve for all students.

Have we removed high fructose corn syrup from school lunches? 


Currently, there are no entrees on the menu with high-fructose corn syrup in them. There are a couple of condiments that do contain high-fructose corn syrup, and we are searching for replacement items to remove those for the 2024-2025 school year.

How can school districts incorporate culturally diverse healthy foods into school meal options?  


School nutrition is a natural area to promote cultural diversity. At San Diego Unified, we strive to reflect the diversity seen within our student body by creating culturally relevant cafeterias. 

Incorporating nutrition education and taste-testing activities is one way Food and Nutrition Services allows students to try new, healthy, and globally inspired dishes while considering the appeal to young taste buds. With more than 100,000 students to serve daily, we try to balance introducing new flavors, keeping up with dining trends, and offering perennial favorites so that we can nourish as many children as possible.

San Diego Unified offers a variety of culturally diverse meals including Mexican-inspired dishes such as tacos, burritos, and a layered Mexican Bean Bowl with whole grain tortilla chips and freshly made salsas. In addition, we offer Asian-inspired dishes such as Mandarin Chicken with brown rice, Kung Pao Chicken, and Vegetable Potstickers.


Our nutrition team continues to move forward to incorporate global dishes into school menus. We feature a Mediterranean salad and Hummus Plate at secondary sites, and this spring, we added popular manager’s specials including a Vietnamese Bánh Mì Sandwich, a Birria Bowl, and Ballpark Nachos.

Are there programs to assist with school food waste? So many lunches from the cafeteria end up in the trash and it's painful to see.


The San Diego Unified School District operates a districtwide waste reduction and recycling program at more than 180 educational facilities, offices, and departments. 

Within Food Services, we work with school kitchens, custodial staff, administration, students, and hunger relief organizations to reduce breakfast and lunch waste in our cafes through our Love Food Not Waste Program which was launched in 2016. In the first three years of implementation, more than 615,000 pounds of food was rescued from school meals, equating to 492,500 meals provided to our local community!


Plus, State laws (AB 1826 and SB 1383) require schools to divert organic waste, including food, landscape/garden waste, and wood waste from landfill disposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save valuable landfill space.


The pandemic impacted our waste reduction efforts but in October 2022 we rolled out a kitchen food scrap collection program. Currently, 140 schools are part of the program. 


What is your perspective on the retail movement towards "alternative" types of sugars (monk fruit, dates, stevia, etc.) and marketing as "no added sugars." There is a concern that we will see these ingredients more in K-12 as new nutrition guidelines are implemented. 


We do not offer products (food or beverages) with alternate or artificial sweeteners. Some of these alternate sweeteners can also be costly which would be another barrier to adoption by K-12 school meal programs.