Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Students, staff celebrate after school drops Michelle O lunch rules

...District officials removed the high school from the National School Lunch Program after years of struggling to comply with federal regulations that drove down student lunch participation and cafeteria revenues, the Tribune-Review reports.

The freedom from the strict restrictions on calories, fat, sugar, salt and other elements, came at the expense of federal funding to help cover free- and reduced-priced lunches for some students, but district business manager Brett Lago said the decision is already paying off in year one.

“We’ve lost, to date, about $40,000 worth of reimbursement, but our sales are up about $50,000 over last year,” he said. “Participation has gone from about 25 percent to 45 percent, and we’re still providing free lunches to all those students who would have been eligible under the school lunch program.”

Ditching the federal regulations allowed school food workers to redesign the cafeteria from a funnel system with few choices to a food court model with a deli and panini station, grill, main course counter and other stations, according to the news site.

“You get to choose what you want instead of being sort of funneled in and only having one choice,” junior Chase Zavarella said. “I think everyone is happier with the new selection.”...

Lago said the new system gives high school students more control over what they eat, whereas the federal program mandated the same sized portions for a wide range of student body types and dietary needs.