For some Kansas City, Kan., students, the schools will soon be providing breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Among the many changes this year to school food service, according to Karla Robinson, head of the nutritional services department in the Kansas City, Kan., school district, is a plan to implement a supper meal at schools that have tutoring programs. Only some students in the district, particularly where there are after-school programs, would be participating. It would be up to those in charge of the programs if they want to participate.
The supper program is funded by a $60,000 grant from the League of Cities, and is a program that has been worked on by the Unified Government Health Department, the school district, and the K-State Extension office, Robinson said. A committee is working out the details, trying to line up the participants and market the program.
“Our goal is to help decrease the problem of food insecurity,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the school has to have some sort of enrichment program, such as tutoring or sports, going on after school for the nutrition department to offer a supper meal. The district has previously offered snacks to some after-school programs, she added.
With some kids eating lunch at 11:30 a.m. or noon, by 3:45 p.m., some of them are hungry for dinner, Robinson noted.
And a county health report showed many residents are food insecure, she added. The term means that some don’t know where their next healthy meal is coming from. Some residents can’t afford healthy food, and others can’t get to a grocery store to buy healthy food, according to the report.
“We just received the grant about two weeks ago, and it’s in the planning stages now,” Robinson said. “Once we implement it, it will be self-sustainable.”
After starting the program and training, the funds for it should be reimbursed from USDA school nutrition funding, she said.
The Kansas City, Kan., district submitted a grant and was one of only 21 cities chosen in the nation to attend leadership training in it, she said. Fifteen of the 21 were chosen for grants, she added. “Our application was one of the best,” she said.
While adding supper could be the most exciting change on the horizon for the district’s food service this year, there are other changes planned as well, Robinson said.
The lunch menu rotation has changed from a four-week schedule to a five-week schedule this year. And there are additional changes to breakfast guidelines this year, she said.
The nutritional requirements for the breakfasts now state that half of the bread grain items have to be whole grain, she said. Last year that change went into effect for lunches. The change is aimed at better health by increasing fiber in the meal.
Other changes are that the breakfast for each age group has specific calorie ranges, and that a new category, middle schools, has been added to the range, she said.
Additional fresh fruits and vegetables are now required for breakfast. While that may present a challenge for some, the district will meet the challenge by offering items such as “Dragon Punch,” a vegetable juice where the primary juice is from sweet potatoes, with an apple base, she said.
The district is offering more scratch cooking, and also implementing farm fresh produce in its meals, she added. Two chefs are helping to develop the meals, and there also is a new emphasis on presentation of the meals with garnishes and attractive plating, she said.
Nine more schools added the elementary breakfast in the classroom this year, bringing the number to 22, she said. Just under half are not serving breakfast in the classroom. A grant from the Midwest Dairy Council helped implement the breakfast in the classroom program. In schools that offer the program, breakfast is free regardless of the student’s status.
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