Rural School Districts Cope With Lunchroom Changes

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It is common knowledge that the fresher the food, the more expensive the cost. When new federal guidelines required schools to increase the servings of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, many wondered how they will pay for it.

An extra six cents will be reimbursed for the number of meals that meets the new regulations, but the question is whether the six cents enough?

Some of the smaller, more rural districts may have a hard time financing the guidelines. Macks Creek Foodservice director, Amber Shofner, is unsure if the six cents is going to cut it. "We will have to see how it goes as it comes," she said. Shofner seems leery of it actually being beneficial, but she knows that the regulations must be met. "There is no way to work around it," she added. So far, she said the regulations simply add stress and more paperwork.

Shawndra Taylor, Eldon Foodservice director, seems optimistic about the reimbursement. "Obviously fresh fruits and vegetables are higher. It is going to help," she said of the reimbursement. The Eldon school district has been implementing the new guidelines slowly over the past few years. "We tried to make strides toward that [new guidelines] to get kids used to it," Taylor said. For her, it is all about feeding the kids a healthy meal no matter the cost.

The new regulations are focused on serving sizes. The amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains are increased by grades. The amount of meat is decreasing. Therefore, the districts will be paying more for fruits and vegetables, but less for meat. "I think in the end, it will balance out," Taylor said.

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