Moffat County school food services encourages freshness, efficiency | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County school food services encourages freshness, efficiency

Judy Baker, director of Moffat County School District’s food services, adjusts a tray in the kitchen Friday at Moffat County High School. The district will be offering a greater selection of healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads as part of school lunches in the fall. Lunch prices will rise 25 cents per meal to cover the costs of the new variety of food. Additionally, the district will introduce a computerized point of sales system to handle the lunchtime process more efficiently.
Andy Bockelman

Story at a glance

Moffat County School District will be implementing changes in the food services program for the upcoming school year, including:

• New nutritional guidelines encouraging students to eat healthier food items like whole grain bread and fresh fruits and vegetables.

• A price increase of 25 cents per school lunch to compensate for rising food prices.

• A computerized point of sale system which will track student lunches to more efficiently keep track of lunch sales.





Judy Baker, director of Moffat County School District’s food services, adjusts a tray in the kitchen Friday at Moffat County High School. The district will be offering a greater selection of healthy fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads as part of school lunches in the fall. Lunch prices will rise 25 cents per meal to cover the costs of the new variety of food. Additionally, the district will introduce a computerized point of sales system to handle the lunchtime process more efficiently.
Andy Bockelman

Story at a glance

Moffat County School District will be implementing changes in the food services program for the upcoming school year, including:

• New nutritional guidelines encouraging students to eat healthier food items like whole grain bread and fresh fruits and vegetables.

• A price increase of 25 cents per school lunch to compensate for rising food prices.

• A computerized point of sale system which will track student lunches to more efficiently keep track of lunch sales.

In her days as a student, Judy Baker recalls the menu of school lunches being very unhealthy, filled with canned vegetables and second-rate meats.

As food services director for Moffat County School District, she has striven to improve the selections available to younger generations. With the coming school year, new options will be available in the lunch line.

The school district will be implementing a price rise, with daily lunch prices going up 25 cents throughout the district. Elementary school lunches will cost $2.50 instead of $2.25, while meal prices at Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School will rise from $2.50 to $2.75.

Baker said there’s a good reason for the price jump.

As part of new nutritional guidelines, the district’s cafeterias will be feature a greater stock of healthier foods. Baker said food services will offer twice the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, while at least half the breads served will be whole grain.

Baker said part of the reason for the new standards is First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for better nutrition in combating childhood obesity.

“She’s really pioneered getting more fruits and vegetables into the schools and larger serving sizes of them,” she said.

Baker said a rate change of 25 cents per meal will be a considerable deal for getting healthy new items in the lunch rotation rather than counting withered carrot sticks and celery stalks or prepackaged fruit items as the healthy part of lunch.

On average, the school district provides about 1,100 lunches per day. For a meal to qualify as healthy it must contain three of a total five components of a balanced lunch, which includes meat, grains, dairy and fruits and vegetable.

For instance, a meal consisting of container of milk and a taco with ground beef would contain three components. Ideally, Baker said, a student would choose to eat a tossed salad to add another component, but it’s not that easy to get all kids to eat their veggies.

“Whether they eat it or not is hard to say, but it’s about providing it and getting it out there,” she said.

Baker said food services had worked on introducing new kinds of fruits in schools last year, such as grapefruit, kiwis and plums.

“Right now, we’re going to work on getting whatever’s in season,” she said.

Food services will also provide a new point of sale system in the schools. Rather than relying on cafeteria workers to go through each student individually, making a checkmark for each lunch they buy throughout the year, the system will be computerized.

“Students will come through the line and they’ll be assigned a number for the PIN pad,” Baker said. “They’ll punch it in, and then their picture will come up with their account, any information on the account, they’ll be able to see what days they eat and if they’re paid up.”

Baker said she believed elementary school students would be able to adjust to remembering a code number.

“It’ll be a little learning curve for them,” she said. “They already have a code they have to remember for their library card, and it’ll probably be the same number.”

Though the rules will be stricter for older students, food service workers will show leniency for elementary students who have difficulty keeping track of their account.

“For junior high and high school, they already know they need to have money or pack a lunch for themselves, but for elementary, we don’t want to put them in a position of going without,” Baker said.

For students whose families are struggling financially, parents can apply for free or reduced meal plans. Baker said the new system should make it easier for the district to communicate with parents about their child’s nutrition.

“One of our biggest things is we need parents to talk to us,” she said. “When the kids are preoccupied with whether or not they’re going to eat, it’s not conducive to good learning.”

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