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The scoop on school lunch

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

Students participate in the food fair.

Everyone has an opinion about school lunch. You might hate it or you might actually like it. Some items you remember favorably and some you still have nightmares about. School lunches have changed over the years. But Jeneane Warren, district director for school lunch still believes school lunch is a bargain for students.

The Emery district participates in cooperative purchasing with 12 other school districts and this leads to food savings and more convenience and ease of purchase for the district. Warren presented to the Emery School District board during their January meeting. She covered the lunch program for the board members to help them better understand school lunch.

The cooperative purchasing increases the program viability and lowers cost of both food and non-food items. The quality and variety of food is increased. Less time is spent with vendors for district employees. The bundled purchases lead to fewer delivery trucks and reduced warehouse costs and unloading time.

Participants in the program can share information, opinions, promotional ideas and can discuss any problems which arise in the lunch program. With all 12 districts bidding together, the smaller school districts save time and resources. The school districts have been able to increase participation in the lunch programs and have been able to keep their lunch programs from losing money.

One event held each year is a food fair where children come to the fair and food test. They are all given score sheets and they go around and try out food items and rate them on taste. Items which score very highly can then be implemented into the Emery district lunch program. Each food item can score five points maximum during the judging. Scoring is three points if the item will be used: .5 point for taste, .5 for appearance, .5 for nutritional contribution and .5 for cost. Foods that pass the nutritional board with three point score or higher goes on to the food fair for the student judges to rate. Foods that pass the food fair are added to the approved list of food for bid for the district. The score sheet for the students has a smiley face and an unhappy face which the students mark if they like the item or not.

Students participate from all districts involved in the cooperative buying. Emery district students have been involved in the food fair and had an enjoyable time there. Each participant received a T-shirt and a lot of information about food.

The Emery district has become more efficient with their food service. Eleven years ago the district had 45 food service employees and used substitutes. In 2007 there are 20 food service employees. These employees are certified by a national program and hold a servsafe certificate.

All menus used by the Emery district are analyzed to meet federal and state regulations. The Emery district feeds 68 percent of the paid students, 78 percent of the free lunches and 77 percent of reduced.

The next food fair will be held on March 30.





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