#1. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST THE SCHOOL DISTRICT TO OPERATE THE FOOD SERVICE PROGRAM?
Wilson’s Food Service is a financially independent program. School tax funds are not used to support the operation of the cafeterias. Several years ago an insightful Board of Education agreed with a recommendation of the Food Service Supervisor to allow the program to work toward financial autonomy. As of the 1997-98 school year the department achieved that goal. All expenses incurred by the food service program including food and supplies; labor expenses; fringe benefits; equipment repair; preventative maintenance and replacement are covered by the revenues generated by the program. During recent renovation projects the Food Service Program committed significant dollars for the replacement of outdated food service equipment. Currenty the Food Service program reimburses the District for "indirect" expenses associated with the operation of the food service program such as utilities and trash removal.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets the specific criteria for the operation of the Food Service Program within a School District.It requires that the program be recognized as a non-profit entity. All the revenues and reimbursements earned by the program must be used solely for the operation of the Food Service Program. For example, the District may not opt to purchased a school bus with the Food Service funds.
Although the program is not financially supported by the General Fund of the School District, the Food Service Program has clearly defined accountability to the Board of Education.Each month detailed financial reports, along with the list of bills to be paid are submitted for Board review and approval. All checks are co-signed by the Board Treasurer, after approval by the full Board. An annual budget is submitted to the Board of Education prior to the start of each school year. School lunch prices are recommended to the Board based on anticipated revenues and expenses, as well as compliance with governmental regulations.
#2.WHAT GUIDELINES ARE USED IN THE PREPARATION OF THE MENU?
The United States Department of Agriculture is empowered by the National School Lunch Act to oversee the operation of the lunch program in the public and private schools through out the country.The U.S. Department of Agriculture then delegates specific areas of responsibility to the State Department of Education, Division of Child Nutrition.
The Federal guidelines regarding the nutritional requirements of the breakfast & lunch program are monitored by each State. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2012 have been finalized. The 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act has been approved. The Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School breakfast Programs are now released. Both programs have timeline compliance steps for the schools to meet.
Starting in 2006 the NUTRITIONAL STANDARDS FOR COMPETITIVE FOODS IN PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOLS was provided as additional guidance by which the nutritional content of foods sold in the a la carte program could be selected. These Nutritional Standards are currently under review again as a result of the new guidelines for National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs
Menus are planned based on both federal and state mandates and meet these nutritional requirements. Additional factors are taken into consideration such as: what the students like; food availability based on the season of the year; food combinations; production requirements; time; space; food cost; color and texture.
#3. HOW DO THE WILSON SCHOOL LUNCH PRICES COMPARE WITH THE OTHER DISTRICTS IN BERKS COUNTY?
Student meal price data collected this year indicates of the eighteen districts in the County , Wilson's meal prices remain competitive with the rest of the schools. With respect to the adult lunch prices, our prices are competitive with other districts in this area.
#4. WHY DO THE MENUS NOW HAVE NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS INFORMATION?
In 1995 Congress passed legislation titled “Healthy School Meals Initiative”. This program refocused the National School Lunch Program with regard to the documentation of the nutritional content of the school meals served to the school age population. The nutrient standards were redesigned to comply with the Dietary Guidelines. The premise of the Dietary Guidelines is to increase Vitamin A; Vitamin C; Calcium and Iron in the American diet, while decreasing the total fat and saturated fat.
Wilson School District menus are planned using the USDA New Standards Menu Planning method. The menus will be analyzed by the Department of Education Field Advisors when they make their routine audits of the school food service programs throughout the Commonwealth. With this type of menu planning system the nutrient standards are achieved with each weekly menu planned. In order to allow for a wide variety of foods and preparation techniques the nutrient are averaged over a school week.
#5. HOW CAN SO MANY STUDENTS BE SERVED IN SUCH A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME?
School Food Service gives real meaning to the term “Fast Food”. Much thought and preplanning is required by the Food Service Staff to assure the menu items are prepared at just the right time, in just the right amount to accomplish this awesome task. Each school day, the Food Service Staff is making a significant contribution to the educational process for Wilson’s Pride.