Perry Township Schools
When I was in elementary school “a few years ago,” a school lunch consisted of powdered mashed potatoes, soggy green beans and something we called mystery meat.
Thank goodness times have changed!
Perry Township Schools follows a wellness policy that stipulates strict nutritional standards for foods sold to students. The objective is to promote student health through good nutritional selections.
Each day, 179 food service professionals work as a team to serve more than 4,700 breakfasts and 11,600 lunches. Chyrie Thompson serves as the director of food services.
Food safety is a serious matter, and we have standards above and beyond the requirements for schools. Every food service manager has completed the ServSafe Course and is a certified food handler. In addition, all other staff members must complete and pass a 10-hour course called Serving It Safe.
We watch our pennies closely in this program, and we participate in a competitive bid process for commodities such as milk, bread and paper products. Other food items are also purchased through a similar procedure. The price for meals next year reflects no change. The cost for breakfast is $1.40, $2.40 for elementary lunch and $2.50 for secondary lunch. Seventy percent of our students participate in the lunch program, and 90 percent of our middle schoolers do; that’s the highest rate in the district.
In addition, breakfast and snacks are provided at the schools participating in the intersession breaks, and breakfast and lunch are served at Baxter YMCA during the breaks.
Last year, more than 11,000 breakfasts and 57,000 lunches were prepared, delivered and served over the summer break at 27 locations, where any child age 18 and under could eat for free.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Act of 2010 set the stage to re-engineer school meal programs. The changes are spread out over 10 years, and new criteria must be met annually.
Serving sizes of fruits and vegetables have increased. This past year, half of all grains on the menu were required to be whole grain. We made that change two years ago. Next year, all grains must be whole, and sodium amounts will be reduced. Calorie limits have been revised, which eliminates trans fats.
All menus must be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Indiana Department of Education.
I talked with several students about the meals. A seventh-grader said, “I really like the fresh fruit, especially the watermelon and apples. The apples aren’t squishy or bruised.”
A high schooler commented, “I didn’t even realize the buns were whole grain – they taste good to me!”
Perry Township Schools is dedicated to meeting the academic, physical and emotional needs of the students placed under our care.
Clearly, our food service department plays a large role in the nutrition of our students. A morning breakfast, a hearty lunch and snacks in the late afternoon provide the energy needed throughout the rigorous school day.