Revisions to the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act have made life easier for Rhonda Vincent and the cooks at Delta County schools.
Vincent, food service director for Delta County Joint School District #50, reported after the first year of implementation, the limits on proteins and grains were lifted so kids are feeling a bit fuller after lunch.
"We're no longer tied into two ounces of grain and two ounces of meat for everybody," she said. "Now we can offer three to four ounces in sandwiches, pizza and things like that.
"We still have to follow the requirements for calories, sodium, fat, whole grains, all the required colors of vegetables and fresh fruit, but I was able to add a few desserts and larger portions for the middle and high schools," she said last week in a report to school board members.
Calorie ranges are 550 to 650 for grades K-5, 600 to 700 for grades 6-8 and 750 to 850 for grades 9-12.
"That can get a little tricky sometimes," Vincent said. "But my ladies are doing a wonderful job and the meals are good."
The bad news — district-wide, kitchen staff served 7,800 fewer lunches as of the end of December. The number of breakfasts is up by 3,080, although the majority of students still eat breakfast at home.
Vincent divided 7,800 by 12 schools to come up with a figure of eight fewer meals per day per school. Declining enrollment accounts for some of the decrease in meal service.
If the decline in enrollment can be attributed to the economy, so can the economy be blamed for an increase in the number of free and reduced lunches. Last year, 51 percent of students districtwide qualified for free and reduced lunches; this year the number bumped up to 55 percent.
The percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced lunches is highest in the Delta schools. BELA, the preschool housed at the old Delta Middle School, hits 75 percent, followed by Garnet Mesa at 68 percent and Lincoln Elementary at 67 percent.
Districtwide, school kitchens are serving 54 percent of the enrolled students. The percentage declines steadily for middle and high school students. When kids get their driver's licenses, they can leave campus for a quick run to Taco Bell.
The school district is reimbursed $2.93 for all free meals, $2.53 for reduced meals and just 28¢ for a paid meal.
"Because our free and reduced meals have increased, we are receiving more from the state than we have in the past," Vincent said.
The school district also receives 6¢ a meal for complying with the requirements of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.
Before concluding her report, Vincent commented on the farm-to-school program. This fall Delta County Joint School District purchased fruit and vegetables from nine local farms, orchards and vendors.blog comments powered by Disqus