Concerns raised about changes to school breakfasts, lunches
Anita Faddis believes school meals in the Baldwin School District are the best they have been.
Faddis, the district's nutrition education consultant, said the district has made several improvements to the school breakfasts and lunches this year.
"We're all taking school lunches very, very seriously," she said. "I think we're doing some good things here."
One of the big changes this year involves the type of food served. For the first time the district will eliminate all processed food from the menu and place an emphasis on an increase in dairy, grains and cereals and fresh fruits and vegetables. A salad bar is still offered, but ala carte has been eliminated.
Instead of purchasing processed foods, the food will be made on site, which Faddis said will allow the district to have the nutritional analysis for every meal.
"I think the school district has really made a commitment in what they want for students," she said.
But she said she has heard there are concerns from parents and students about the school meals, like a decrease in portion size served.
"It has never been our intent to make smaller portion sizes or limit the amount of food," she said. "In fact, we are way above what the state recommends."
For example, Faddis said, high school students are served a 5-ounce chicken breast or an 8-inch hoagie.
"They're getting more than what they'd get with a hot pocket," she said.
Students are also able to serve themselves as much fresh fruit, salad or vegetables as they want, she said.
Long lunch lines, Faddis said, had also been raised as a concern. At the beginning of school, she said, it took a little longer to get students through the lunch line at Baldwin High School during the three, 26-minute lunch periods.
"In the high school, there was some confusion in scheduling and we had a very large first lunch hour," she said. "We knew the line had been a little bit slow to begin with."
But some adjusting was made in lunch period sizes, she said, and an additional person was added to help with the serving line and another was added to wash trays to help speed up the process.
"We served 422 lunches on Thursday from the high school," she said, "and we served them very quickly."
Faddis thinks the students have liked the change in food served, which she said is evident by the number of students eating school meals.
"We have seen a 50-percent increase in the number of students eating hot school lunches this year," she said.
Isaac Burbank, a BHS junior, said he noticed the change in the food, but wishes ala carte and some of the processed food hadn't been eliminated.
"We miss some of the junk food," Burbank said. "But they're pretty good lunches."
Mary Flory, head cook at BHS, said she thinks it will take a little while for students to completely adjust to the new meals.
"It's just the beginning," Flory said. "It's going to take the students a little time to realize the differences."
But she said some students have already adapted.
"A lot of them are willing to try the new foods," she said. "They really seem to like all the fresh fruits and fresh vegetables."
Faddis said the district welcomes suggestions and questions about the changes to the meals and encourages parents with concerns to visit the schools.
"I think it's really important parents are concerned that their children are getting hot school lunches," she said. "But I also think it's important for the parents, if they are concerned, to come and visit the school. Have breakfast, have lunch with the students."