What’s Cooking: JCPS serves up healthy meals, new programs

Nutrition Services launches pop-up food tastings, topping stations

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is cooking up several new programs to make healthy school lunches more accessible and appealing to students in the 2019-20 school year. 

Orange chicken with broccoli on a tray from JCPS Nutrition Services

The district’s School and Community Nutrition Services (SCNS) team serves thousands of meals to students every day—more than 64,000 lunches and 40,000 breakfasts a day last year alone. That totals more than 11.2 million lunches and more than 7 million breakfasts in the 2018-19 school year.

To keep the meals healthy and appealing to students, JCPS will focus on several initiatives this school year, including some new programs and the continuation of other successful projects, including:

  • A new, more efficient process for managing students’ special dietary needs—from food intolerances to life-threatening allergies. A new School Health Plan/Special Dietary Needs form can now be accessed on the JCPS website and through the Nutrislice meal app. In the past, households have been required to provide a new form, signed by a licensed practitioner, every year. Beginning this year, parents only need to submit a new form if there has been a change in the student’s health condition relative to allergies. Since many medical offices charge a fee to fill out forms, this process change will alleviate that financial burden for many of our families.
  • Pop-up Food Tastings, allowing students to sample new products and recipes so staff can gather feedback and help menus stay on target. 
  • A new initiative with Blessings in a Backpack allowing non-perishable, individually wrapped items to be donated to the weekend backpack program. This program complements the Food Rescue Program launched last year that allows students to ‘rescue’ unopened, individually wrapped or packaged food items in the dining room to be donated to Kentucky Harvest.
  • Implementing topping bars and flavor stations on the serving line or in the cafeteria to allow students to customize their selections with a variety of seasonings and toppings. 
  • Continuing the Taste it Don’t Waste it program, which encourages students to commit to eat the foods they select and reduce overall waste.  
  • Students, parents, school nurses and others can continue to access school menus and nutrition information through the school meal app Nutrislice at jcps.nutrislice.com or through the district website at jefferson.kyschools.us.

omelette and waffle fries on a tray from JCPS nutrition services
JCPS serves school meals in 146 sites, 133 of which participate in the Community Eligibility program allowing all students in the participating schools to eat breakfast and lunch at no charge. All JCPS households received a summer mailer with information and forms for applying for meals.  To ensure that the district maximizes state and federal funding tied to the students’ socio-economic status, it’s important that families complete the applications.

These forms can also be accessed online at:

Free and Reduced Meal application (red form) - myschoolapps.com

Educational Benefits Form (green form): jcps.me/ebf 


Follow JCPS online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.