Earlier this year, I was invited to attend the School Nutrition Association Conference in Boston. It was, to say the least, a very eye opening experience for me. I had so many questions I didn’t even know I had, and while it was just a short experience (one day), really enlightening. Right after the conference, I shared 5 Things to Know about School Nutrition Programs. Today, I’m sharing a little bit more with you about school nutrition programs. But this post is coming from a School Nutrition Director- specifically, the woman who runs the program in our little town here in Connecticut. While some specific details may vary, it’s my understanding from reading and talking to others, that this is pretty much across the board. Carrie was just kind enough to answer some of my questions so I can help educate parents like myself!
5 Things Your School Nutrition Director Wants You to Know
What would you like parents to know about school lunch programs? Both in town and or a larger scale, if you want.
The USDA is in charge of formulating child nutrition requirements for food that is sold as part of the National School Breakfast/Lunch Program. The child nutrition food is geared towards specific ages and Townville Public Schools food meets the nutritional requirements for elementary, middle school and high school students.
How much leeway do food service directors have in determining what’s served in a school? How is that determination made?
The Food service director has very little leeway in determining what’s served in a meal. The Federal Government has set requirements each meal must meet. Leeway exists at the level of which day to serve a starch or which day to serve carrots and which day to serve broccoli, for example but the amount of vegetables is preset.
How can parents get involved so that they can support the food service program in schools and make it a partnership that works for everyone?
Parents and students of Boy/Girl Scouts could pick apples at a local orchard and donate them to the schools breakfast and lunch program.
(Note from Brett: There are likely lots of ways for parents to get involved. This is one example. Work to get a garden started… form a committee and make things happen. Talk to your nutrition people and see HOW you can help. Get to know them, and your local program, and be proactive in seeking answers to questions- and in educating others).
How do you select venders for ingredients and food sold and prepared?
The Eastconn Food Coop is available to every school district in the state of Connecticut which Townville is a member. As a collaborative group we select vendors/distributors with products in compliance requirements such as CN labels and of course discount pricing.
Can you explain in simple terms how the food service budget runs?
All revenue comes from purchases and federal reimbursements. Revenue covers all costs of running the program. To clarify “all costs” means food, paper products, equipment, equipment maintenance and repair, supplies and my salary and staff payroll. The Town of Townville does not contribute.
On Facebook? Be sure to like Tray Talk- a site that provides hot topics articles, success story profiles and facts on school meal programs nationwide.
What ways do YOU think parents can get involved with the school nutrition program local to them?
Thanks to SNA for inviting me to the conference and for sponsoring these posts. It’s definitely been an educational experience for me!