Lawrence D’Andrea, the Director of Food Service, gave a presentation to the Saline Area Schools Board of education during its Nov. 28 meeting about a few of the challenges the food service department faces as well as recent achievements. D’Andrea said the main challenges were increasing parental awareness of food service programs, complying with federal nutrition requirements, and increasing the number of meals sold that the district can receive reimbursement for from the federal government.
D'Andrea said many parents aren't aware of all the services and programs the food service department makes available, including school breakfasts and a website where parents can see the nutritional information for each menu item. The word is starting to get out about breakfasts, though, and the sales of school breakfasts are up by 800 over the same time last year, he said.
Parents can get a quick idea of what is on the menu by following the food service department's Twitter page, @shsfoodservice. A full menu with nutritional information and the ability to filter by allergen is also available through the nutrislice.com website.
Another challenge, D'Andrea said, is balancing federal regulations about using whole wheat, reducing sodium and offering fruit with creating meals that students will eat and enjoy. For instance, regulations require the food service staff to include fruit with meals, but students often don't eat the fruit. Food service staff are looking into whether they can donate uneaten fruit to Saline Area Social Service, D'Andrea said.
And finally, while the "ala carte" option is popular with students, these items are not reimbursable, so the district is working on upping sales of reimbursable meals.
Assistant Director of Food Service Chris Simpson provided some fun facts about concessions in the school district. 120 pounds of nacho cheese and 1,320 slices of pizza were sold during football season.
During a round of questions from school board trustees, D'Andrea also noted the school system has instituted a "no lunch-shaming" policy for students this year. That means if a student can't pay for lunch, he or she is given the same lunch as everybody else and isn't scolded or punished in any way. Instead, staff keep track of families in arrears, and D'Andrea contacts the parents to work out a payment plan or to help them sign up for free or reduced-cost lunches.
See the PDF document attached for more facts about Saline’s food service department.