Food Service Advisory Committee Report
Jill Turner explained that the Food Service Advisory Committee reviewed the district lunch program and researched other lunch program options. Jill Turner distributed a cost-out of the current school lunch program as well as projections for other lunch program options.
Ruth Alexander and Eva Skuratowicz gave a PowerPoint presentation on the committee’s findings. The Food Service Committee recommended that the district return to an in-house food services program and hire an experienced Food Services Director who advocates using local, healthy food; who cares about controlling waste; and who, most importantly listens to and learns from the customers: the students, parents and staff of our district.
Public Input was taken as follows.
I support an in-house food service program. It supports relationships with the community, it would be a more sustainable model, and would provide healthy food. Kids will eat more when they have healthy, organic options.
The district needs to be financially responsible. Consider the unrecognized costs and benefits. Better nutrition results in better attendance and better behavior trends.
We have a lot of gardeners in this room. If that food is healthy for you to eat – surely it is for our children.
We have a vested interest in what we feed our children. Healthy nutrition correlates with concentration and better learning.
Representatives of Sodexho expressed appreciation for the opportunity to manage the food program for the last 5 years.
I see kids flocking out of Ashland High School at noon. I think you could keep more kids there if the food was improved. I would like to see the money go to the local economy. Do not look at the cost of an in-house program as a loss of funds – look at is as an investment in the kids.
Obesity is caused by eating food that is nutrient poor. Processed food cannot be as nutritious as that from a garden or local farm.
A study in England of a school that went from a processed lunch program to a fresh food program indicated that absenteeism decreased by 15%.
I strongly encourage you to serve local food which will result in more students participating in the program.
Life-long habits about eating and nutrition are developed in childhood. I would like an in-house lunch program to assist students in that area.
I support the local program for food in our schools.
I am an Ashland High School student and I never eat at the high school cafeteria because I do not feel the food is nutritious. I bring my lunch every day. If you get the support of the parents and students, more kids will eat on campus. Our current lunch program could and should be changed.
I support the committee’s recommendation. If we can’t do an innovative in-house program supported by the local farms, where else can it be done.
The support of Thrive was pledged to help the school district bring its food service back in house.
Parents invest a lot in the district for our children’s education in every form. Why is education about nutrition taking a back seat? Where is it written that a school nutrition program should be cost neutral?
Board members thanked the committee members for their work. Juli Di Chiro recommended that, if a lunch program is brought in-house, a Food Services Director should be hired at the onset of the program in order for it to be successful. Our current school gardens are not of the type or scope to successfully provide food for the school cafeterias. She also thanked Sodexho for working with the district for the last five years. Following deliberation, Director Alexander moved that the Board authorize the staff to proceed with the preliminary steps necessary to hire an independent Food Service Director to run our breakfast and lunch programs in house. Director Skuratowicz seconded and the motion passed unanimously by roll call vote.