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Meals and Snacks

Meals and Snacks

Regular intake of nutritious food helps ensure students are physically primed to learn. San Diego Unified School District serves a nutritious breakfast and lunch every school day. Please support your child's learning by making sure your child has access to these meals, along with adequate, healthy snacks.
If your child is bringing lunch from home, pack only nutritious foods for lunch and afternoon recess snack. Avoid highly sweetened or high sodium foods and drinks ("junk food"). These items (such as soda pops, sports drinks, large bags of chips or candy treats) may be confiscated by a school staff member if found to be causing an unreasonable distraction to others.
Sharing of food is not permitted due to the potential for allergic reactions. Our lunch arbor has a designated "peanut-free" table, but if there are any known allergies, the school nurse and principal must be informed. We ask families to avoid including foods with peanuts in them for the safety of our students.
For safety reasons, glass containers are not permitted on school property. Please make sure your child’s food items are tightly wrapped and enclosed.

Free and Reduced Price Meals

All students receive a multi-child Free and Reduced Meal Application on the first day of school. Please complete the application and return it to the school the following day. This application should be completed regardless of income and must be resubmitted each year. If a student's family does not meet the criteria for free or reduced meals, he or she may purchase breakfast for 50 cents, lunch for $1.75 and, if desired, an extra milk for 25 cents.

Meal Accounts

Student meals may be paid for in advance. To make payments or monitor a student's meal account--either online or over the phone--you may use the PayPAMS system Link opens in new window.. The system is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and accepts Discover, MasterCard, or Visa. Registration is required to use PayPAMS services. To do so, you will need your child's student ID or PIN. If you do not have this information, please call the Food Services Helpdesk at 858-627-7330 for assistance. Registering for PayPAMS will not affect your child's current account balance. For more information, visit the Department of Food Services webpage. It may take up to 24 hours for student accounts to be credited.

To pay by cash or check, place the payment in a sealed envelope marked with the student's name and his or her teacher's name. Please make checks payable to Birney Cafeteria. Students should take all money to the cafeteria first thing in the morning to ensure funds are available for later that day.

Funds are maintained in a student account until they are used, regardless of how often a student eats in the cafeteria.

If a student does not have funds for a meal, a staff member may, at his or her discretion, loan money to the student. Students are expected to pay such loans back as soon as possible. Students with outstanding loans will not be given additional money. Instead, they will be given a small snack and something to drink. To avoid this situation, please take a moment to send a check to the cafeteria, or take advantage of the PayPAMS system and pay online or by phone.

For more information on the school lunch program and menus, visit the district website.

Kid's Choice Café

The district's award-winning Kid's Choice Café program encourages students to eat at school more consistently and helps to guide them toward healthier food choices.


Students are encouraged to eat breakfast every day to give them the opportunity to come to class adequately prepared for learning. Kid's Choice Café breakfasts offer three entrée choices including yogurt and a variety of non-sweetened cereals. Bright red, kid-sized salad bars are also used to serve a variety of fruits and other breakfast favorites. Breakfast is served from 8:45-9:05 a.m. for $1.


Through the Kid's Choice Cafe program, lunch offers four entrée choices and includes a salad bar where students can select from an array of fruits, vegetables and healthy toppings every day. Look for the Food Services newsletter in the weekly mail.


Parents are encouraged to send children to school with healthy snacks, such as fruit, vegetables or yogurt. Items such as chips, cookies, candy and similar non-nutritive foods are NOT ACCEPTABLE.  Snacks may be eaten in designated areas only.