Effective July 1, 2011, federal law, section 205 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires local school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program to charge the full cost of producing a meal versus subsiding the cost of these meals using federal funds. The district is required to gradually adjust prices to meet this requirement.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: What are the food service/nutrition expenses?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: DeKalb County School Nutrition Income & Expenses – SN Attachment 5.
Question 2: What resource/funding streams pay for food services?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: Fund streams for School Nutrition Programs is primarily receive revenue from four sources: Federal meal reimbursements, student payments for federally reimbursable meals, sales of competitive foods, and State or local government contributions. This information is provided in the attached DeKalb County School Nutrition Income & Expenses Report.
Question 3: DeKalb’s meal plan price is average compared to the rest of metro Atlanta. What considerations go into raising or lowering that price?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: An increase in the prices for breakfast, lunch and after school snacks is based on breakfast expenses (Food, Labor and Other Cost) and an analysis of annual projected increases in expenditures. In addition, School Nutrition aligned breakfast, lunch and snack prices with other metro Districts. Meal prices may vary within each District based on other internal variables and program logistics such as: Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), Provision II, A La Carte Sales, Free & Reduced percentages and contributions from the general fund (non-federal fund source). We currently do not lower prices. According to federal regulations, this can only be done only if the Board decides to subsidize the program with revenue from the general fund.
Question 4: Does anybody from nutrition actually go out and eat the food our school cafeterias serve?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: The School Nutrition Coordinators are required by federal law to conduct Annual Reviews from October 1 – February 1. Coordinators monitor student acceptability of new products on the menu at the school level and eat lunch during onsite visits. The Coordinator assesses and develops standards for operation of an efficient, sanitary and high quality food service program. Products are taste tested in Central Office and removed and added based on student preferences. The new regulations for school meals forced school districts to offer more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, while reducing protein and sodium.
Under the supervision of the Menu Coordinator, DCSN recipes are developed and/or revised by the School Nutrition Trainer, a Certified Chef. Recipes are analyzed and/or revised to be compliant with guidelines set by the USDA. Once recipes meet these guidelines, they are tested with the students at the Training Kitchen Facility and other school sites determined by the Menu Coordinator. Feedback is compiled from these taste tests and discussed at the monthly manager meetings.
In an effort to gain additional feedback regarding menus, the DCSD Menu Committee was formed to provide a format to provide constructive criticism, suggestions, ideas, and express concerns regarding the DeKalb County School District Menus. The committee is composed of managers from each region representing each grade level, the School Nutrition Trainer, Buyer, Buyer Assistant, Menu Coordinator, Assistant Director, and Executive Director of School Nutrition. The committee meets once per semester and members provide feedback based on their region. This information is used to revise and plan recipes and menus. Additional feedback is also received via the School Nutrition website and phone calls to the department. Each response is investigated to determine if it’s isolated to one school or a problem county wide. Action is taken based on the outcome of the investigation.
School Nutrition Managers, Assistant Managers and Food Assistants assist in preparing nutritious breakfasts and lunches served to students. Federal regulations, allow School Level School Nutrition employees to receive one breakfast and lunch meal at no cost and is considered a fringe benefit attributable to program costs. Employees provide feedback to their School Nutrition Manager/Assistant Manager regarding the quality of products offered to students.
Question 5: School Nutrition has a new website, can you tell us about that?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: See SN Attachment 6.
Question 6: Are there any other updates you would like to share?
Answer from Joyce Wimberly: See SN Attachment 7.