To donate to our Food4Success campaign to help pay off accumulated meal debt, click here.
To read more about how school lunch directly correlates to student achievement, click here.
Amidst all the talk about unpaid lunch balances, we sat down with the Assistant Director of Greeley-Evans School District 6, Kara Sample, and learned all about the department, as well as how we accumulated $145,000 and details on funding. Read her interview below:
What is the mission of District 6 Nutrition Services?
“‘Nourishing Students, Creating Success.’ It is at the core of everything we do. Nutrition Services supports student achievement by offering healthy, great-tasting meals and promoting overall wellness through nutrition education opportunities and connecting students to their food via Farm to School and School Garden programs. We place great focus on providing menu items that appeal to students while still wholesome and fresh. Our program creates from-scratch meals sourcing local ingredients when possible. Our overarching goal is to nourish students and fuel the brains and bodies to be successful in the classroom!”
What is the most important factor you consider when planning what meals you’re going to prepare?
“There are so many important factors to consider when we are planning meals and menus for the students we serve! It’s difficult to pinpoint just one. Here are a few priorities that we place great focus on:
- Will this menu option appeal to students? If the food we serve isn’t well-liked by students, they likely won’t eat it. We want kids to eat and enjoy everything we offer!
- Does the menu option meet school nutrition standards? There are certain nutrition requirements that we must adhere to in order to receive government reimbursement for the meals we serve.
- Is the menu option as wholesome as possible? We aim to cook from scratch and prepare our meals with whole, real foods.
- How can we incorporate local products into our menu options? We place focus on supporting local growers while offering the freshest and most nutrient-dense food to our students.
- How will the menu option affect a student’s ability to learn? Our most important job is to support academic achievement. We want to ensure that the food we provide to our students enhances their ability to learn.
Can you tell us about your scratch kitchen and partnerships with local farms?
Nutrition Services houses a central Production Kitchen (CPK) that is led by an Executive Chef and a Sous Chef. There are 15 employees that make up the CPK team. These employees are responsible for crafting delicious and wholesome meals for the student of District 6. The meals created at the CPL are made-from-scratch and with love and passion! They begin with whole, raw ingredients that are turned into meals that are nutritious and gobbled up by our students! A student favorite is our homemade Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Additionally, the Nutrition Services Department works with a variety of local growers and producers to purchase as much local product as possible. Examples of locally sourced foods are: chicken, milk, potatoes, onions, pinto beans, melons, apples, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes – just to name a few!
What kind of programs do you offer?
In terms of food programs we off the following:
- School Breakfast Program
- National School Lunch Program
- After-School Snack Program
- Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program
- Special Milk Program
- Supper Program
In terms of wellness programming we offer:
- Nutrition Education
- “Culinary Classroom” Education
- Non-Food Rewards
- Healthy Classroom Party Kits
- School Garden Support
Why is school lunch so important for students?
Nutrition is fuel for the body and brain. Without proper nutrition, a student cannot learn and excel in the classroom. Healthy school meals correlate with Student Achievement!
How much does each lunch cost a student?
On average, 65% of families – who submit a free-and-reduced lunch application – qualify for school meal benefits. In the state of Colorado, if a family qualifies for meal benefits at the free OR reduced level, their student (or students) will receive both breakfast and lunch at no cost (free). If a family foes not qualify for meal benefits, school meals cost the following:
- K-5th Grades Breakfast – $1.70
- K-5th Grade Lunch – $3.00
- 6-12th Grades Breakfast – $1.80
- 6-12th Grade Lunch – $3.25
How much meal debt is our district in?
Year-to-date, district-wide, our negative balances equate to approximately $145,000.
What happens to that debt if it’s not paid off?
Every child eats, every day! A child is NEVER denied a meal – no matter what. Therefore, meal debt does accumulate. If that debt is not paid off, it is absorbed elsewhere (Nutrition funds and/or General funds. As a result, the money needed to cover meal debt is no longer available for other priorities. To illustrate, funds may not be available to purchase higher quality food items or the most effective curriculum needed in the classroom.