Culinary Services

Welcome to Culinary Services

A girl smiles at the camera while eating lunch at school

School Meals for 2021-22

All Seattle Public School students, regardless of family income, will have access to nutritious meals at no cost throughout the 2021-22 school year thanks to a program provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

School Menu Highlights

  • A greater focus on fruits and vegetables at breakfast.
  • More whole-grain rich items.
  • Meals contain less sodium.

Read more about current year food selection and meal highlights on our menus webpage.

Programs for Schools with Vulnerable Populations

Seattle Public Schools has several special programs based on school community demographics. Programs, such as Community Eligibility Provision, are intended to support vulnerable students and their families. Read more about these special programs for designated schools.


How do I apply for free or reduced priced meal benefits for my student(s)?

Families can now apply for Free and Reduced-Price meals online.  The process is safe, secure, private and available through

Applications are available for download in early August. Additionally, applications are available on the Culinary Services webpage. Applications are provided in English and the top eight translations.

Applications are also available at your school’s lunchroom, main office or the Enrollment Services department located at the John Stanford Center.

Applications, once completed can be dropped off at the school lunchroom for forwarding to the department central office for processing or mailed to:
Culinary Services
MS 32-372;
PO Box 34165;
Seattle, WA 98124

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), called Basic Food in Washington, helps low income people make ends meet by providing monthly benefits to buy food. Participating in Basic Food has other benefits including enrollment in free school meals for school]aged children. 

How are families informed if they qualify for free or reduced price meal benefits?

Once processing is completed, families are mailed a letter identifying students eligibility for free, reduced or paid meals. Families are encouraged to save this letter for other benefit purposes such as discounts on field trips, athletic or testing fees, etc. From mid-August to late October, processing of meal benefit applications may take 7-10 days once received due to the large volume of forms received.

Families are encouraged to complete the current year application as early as possible to ensure that a students eligibility status is properly established early in the school year. Families requesting a replacement eligibility letter for sports or academic purposes may contact Culinary Services at 206-252-0675.

Do families need to complete an application for free or reduced price meal benefits each year?

Yes. Students returning to a Seattle Public School start the first 30 days of the school year retaining their prior years eligibility for free or reduced priced meals. Families are encouraged during that initial time period to submit a current year application for processing. Families who do not submit a current year application for their student during the first 30 school days will rollover to the paid status on the 31st school day which is typically mid-October.

Families are responsible for the cost of meals provided to a student prior to eligibility for free or reduced priced meals being established.

Can I submit an application for school meal benefits anytime during the school year?

Yes. While applications for the current year are typically submitted between August to October, if a family’s income or household size changes during the year an application can be submitted to determine eligibility for free or reduced priced meals.

Are meals provided free to student’s in some schools regardless of their eligibility for free, reduced priced or paid meals?

Breakfast is provided at no cost to students enrolled in schools where 80% or more of the enrolled student’s qualify for free or reduced priced meals during the previous school year.

Under a new federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), all students at specific schools are provided breakfast and lunch at no cost during the school year.

In all Seattle schools, students who qualify for free or reduced price meals receive meals at no cost. Culinary Services does not collect a copay from students eligible for reduced priced meals.

How do you pay for school meals?

Culinary Services offers a variety of convenient ways to pay for school meals. Checks and cash are accepted by the school’s Lunchroom Manager either as a pre-paid deposit to a student’s account or for purchasing individual meals, milk or other a la carte item. Checks should be made payable to Culinary Services.

Student meals may also be paid for with a credit card online at PayPams, PayPams require the Student’s ID number or meal account pin number (provided by the school) to create an account. The Student ID number can be found on report cards or by accessing The Source. PayPams charges users a payment transaction of $ 1.95 per student for each transaction.

Where can I find a school breakfast and lunch menu?

Breakfast and lunch is served each day in all Seattle schools.

Exceeding the nutrition standards of the USDA’s 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act is easy when students have unlimited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. School meals also feature locally sourced grain-rich bread, hamburger and hot dog buns and hormone free milk from Washington State. To meet important nutrient needs for calcium, vitamin D and protein, students can choose 1% low fat milk or nonfat plain or chocolate milk with lunch each day. (Only 1% low fat and nonfat white milk are served at breakfast).

My child has a special dietary need. May they still participate in the school meal program at their school?

Yes, but a Diet Prescription must be submitted to Culinary Services to ensure that proper foods are provided. Under federal regulations, a Diet Prescription must be completed by a Licensed Physician (when identifying a disability such as a life threatening food allergy or diabetes) or a Recognized Medical Authority (RMA) when identifying a non-disabling medical condition such as a food intolerance. For Diet Prescription purposes, a RMA includes a Licensed Physician, Doctor of Osteopathy, Licensed Physician’s Assistant, ARNP or Licensed Naturopathic Physician.

Families and students can access nutritional fact and allergen information on the Culinary Services department’s School Meals webpage.

Personal or religious food preferences such as vegan, vegetarian or halal, do not meet the definition of a disabling or non-disabling medical condition for which a special school meal will be provided. Families and students are encouraged to become familiar with the school meal menu to identify days in which these menu options are readily available. Diet Prescription forms may be downloaded from the main SPS Culinary Services webpage. Forms may also be requested by contacting Culinary Services main office at 206-252-0675.

What Seattle schools participate in the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant program?

Elementary schools in Seattle have been awarded grants to serve a mid‐morning or mid‐afternoon fresh fruit or vegetable snack to students. The purpose of the program is to increase the variety and frequency of fruits and vegetables that children eat and to positively influence their life‐long eating habits.