Portsmouth School Nutrition Department 1 Junkins Avenue, Suite 402 Portsmouth, NH 03801 Tel: (603) 436-0443 Fax: (603) 431-6753
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Nutrition Department,
1 Junkins Avenue, Suite 402
Portsmouth, NH 03801
603-431-6753 Fax

Deborah Riso
School Nutrition Director

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  • Parent Letter
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Elementary   $1.50 / $7.50 

$2.50 / $12.50

Middle School $1.75/ $8.75   

$3.00 / $15.00

High School $1.75/ $8.75 

$3.25/ $16.25


Dear Parent/Guardian:

Children need healthy meals to learn. The Portsmouth School District offers healthy meals every school day. Breakfast costs are $1.50 in the elementary schools and $1.75 in Middle and High School. Lunch costs are $2.50 Elementary, $3.00 Middle School and $3.25 High School. Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced price meals. Reduced price is Free for breakfast and $.40 for lunch. Below are some common questions and answers to aid in the process of determining your child's eligibility.

  1. Do I need to fill out an application for each child? No. Use one Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. We cannot approve an application that is not complete, so be sure to fill out all required information. Return the completed application to: Deborah Riso, Nutrition Director, at Portsmouth School Department, 1 Junkins Ave, 4th Floor, Portsmouth NH 03801
  2. Who can get free meals? All children in households receiving benefits from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can get free meals regardless of your income. Also, your children can get free meals if your household's gross income is within the free limits on the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines.

MC900411244[1]If you have received a NOTICE OF DIRECT CERTIFICATION for free meals, do not complete the application. Please let the Nutrition Department (436-0443 or 610-4474) know if any children in your household are not listed on the Notice of Direct Certification letter you received.

  1. CAN FOSTER CHILDREN GET FREE MEALS? Yes, foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court, are eligible for free meals.


  1. Can homeless, runaway, HEAD START and migrant children get free meals? Yes, children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant are eligible for free meals. If you believe children in your household meet these descriptions and haven't been told your children will get free meals, please call Joanne Simons, Homeless Liaison at 431-5080 or e-mail her at jsimons@portsmouth.k12.nh.us.
  2. WHO CAN GET REDUCED PRICE MEALS? Your children can get reduced price meals if your household income is within the reduced price limits on the Federal Eligibility Income Chart, shown on this application.
  3. SHOULD I FILL OUT AN APPLICATION IF I RECEIVED A LETTER THIS SCHOOL YEAR SAYING MY CHILDREN ARE APPROVED FOR FREE MEALS? A new application needs to be filled out each year unless you have received a NOTICE OF DIRECT CERTIFICATION but please read the letter you got carefully making sure it is for the upcoming school year and follow the instructions.  Call the Nutrition Department at 436-0443 or 610-4474 if you have questions.
  4. MY CHILD'S APPLICATION WAS APPROVED LAST YEAR. DO I NEED TO FILL OUT A NEW ONE? Yes. Your child's application is only good for that school year and for the first few days of this school year. You must send in a new application unless the school told you that your child is eligible for the new school year.
  5. I GET WIC. CAN MY CHILDREN GET FREE MEALS? Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Please send in an application.
  6. Will the information I give be checked? Yes and we may also ask you to send written proof.
  7. If I don't qualify now, may I apply later? Yes, you may apply at any time during the school year. For example, children with a parent or guardian who becomes unemployed may become eligible for free and reduced price meals if the household income drops below the income limit.
  8. What if I disagree with the school's decision about my application? You should talk to school officials. You also may ask for a hearing by calling or writing to: Stephen Bartlett, Business Administrator, Portsmouth School Department, 1 Junkins Ave, 4th Floor, Portsmouth NH 03801, at 436-5080 or email him at  sbartlett@portsmouth.k12.nh.us.
  9. May I apply if someone in my household is not a U.S. citizen? Yes. You or your children do not have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for free or reduced price meals.
  10. Who should I include as members of my household? You must include all people living in your household, related or not (such as grandparents, other relatives, or friends) who share income and expenses. You must include yourself and all children living with you. If you live with other people who are economically independent (for example, people who you do not support, who do not share income with you or your children, and who pay a pro-rated share of expenses), do not include them.
  11. What if my income is not always the same? List the amount that you normally receive. For example, if you normally make $1000 each month, but you missed some work last month and only made $900, put down that you made $1000 per month. If you normally get overtime, include it, but do not include it if you only work overtime sometimes. If you have lost a job or had your hours or wages reduced, use your current income.
  12. We are in the military. do we include our housing allowance as income? If you get an off-base housing allowance, it must be included as income. However, if your housing is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, do not include your housing allowance as income.
  13. My spouse is deployed to a combat zone. is her combat pay counted as income?  No, if the combat pay is received in addition to her basic pay because of her deployment and it wasn't received before she was deployed, combat pay is not counted as income. Contact your child's school for more information.
  14. My family needs more help. Are there other programs we might apply for? To find out how to apply for SNAP or other assistance benefits, contact your local assistance office or call 610-7267 or 610-7260.

If you have other questions or need help, call 436-0443


Deborah Riso, Nutrition Director
Portsmouth School Department

Partners in education

Children develop healthy habits for life with a strong partnership between the School Nutrition Department and classroom programs. We are proud to be a continued partner in education in the Portsmouth School District. Recently Patricia Laska (the Nutrition Services Director and a Registered Dietitian) visited a fourth grade class at the Little Harbour School to provide great hands-on information on healthy nutrition and digestion. Ask your children if they remember how long the rope was that was used as an example for the length of their digestive tract!

Why eat breakfast?
I don't have time!
Many studies report up to 40 % of all kids do not eat breakfast. Some kids will skip breakfast because they think it's a way to stay thin. If you are someone who thinks this is true think again! Studies show that breakfast is associated with better weight control. Breakfast eaters tend to eat fewer calories, less saturated fat and cholesterol and have better overall nutritional status than breakfast skippers. Without breakfast your energy levels are very low and as a result, you tend to impulsively snack - often on high-fat sweets - or to eat extra servings at lunch or dinner. When you eat breakfast, your body feels nourished and satisfied, making you less likely to overeat the rest of the day and allows you to reach your full potential.

The research shows even more compelling reasons for kids:

  • Research has shown a strong connection between eating a healthy breakfast and success in school. Students who eat breakfast before school have a general increase in math grades and reading scores, better attention, less sick days and less visits to the nurse.
  • In addition research has shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast achieve higher scores on standardized tests, get better grades overall and generally meet their daily nutritional needs in comparison to those who do not eat breakfast.

Eating a good breakfast in the morning is a sure way to help start your brain and body working well to prepare you for school. If it's too hard to get a good breakfast in before an early bus or carpool consider eating with us! Meals served through the Portsmouth School Nutrition Program are required to meet all Federal nutrition guidelines. A healthy breakfast served by us includes:

  • Milk
  • Fruit/vegetable/100% juice
  • Whole grains/breads and /or cereal or
  • Meat/meat alternate

"No time" is no excuse, so tomorrow morning; come and fuel up at your school cafeteria with a healthy breakfast!

*Information from the American Dietetic Association


Portsmouth School Nutrition Department is affiliated with several organizations that each offer continued networking with colleagues, skill development tools for employees and professional certifications. In addition the Nutrition Department aligns themselves with several buying groups (NH buying group, NH farm to school and federal commodities) to maintain a competitive edge in purchasing power. For more information on the associations just click on the below links to navigate their sites.

Portsmouth School Nutrition Department
1 Junkins Avenue, Suite 402
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Tel: (603) 436-0443
Fax: (603)431-6753

Deb Riso
School Nutrition Director
Tel: (603) 436-0443

Paula McCarthy
Little Harbour School
Tel: (603) 431-4831

Joanne Curtis
New Franklin School
Tel: (603) 436-8133


Michelle Parker
Portsmouth High School
Tel: (603) 431-4185

Paula Slattery
Dondero School
Tel: (603) 431-5065

Kirsten Stallkamp
Portsmouth Middle School
Tel: (603) 431-4835