Originally Posted Online: May 14, 2013, 9:08 pm
Last Updated: May 14, 2013, 9:17 pm
Regulations making RI school meals a challenge
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By Nicole Lauer, email@example.com
Increased regulations and food costs make meals at Rock Island schools a challenge, food service director Deb Magerkurth told school board members Tuesday night.
Ms. Magerkurth said about 130 staff members daily provide 1,861 breakfasts and 4,411 lunchesto the district's students and staff.The meal program is funded by federal and state dollars, as well as students and staff.
The government continues to change school meal requirements, she said, now forcing the district to move to whole grains, eliminate all trans fats and limit sodium, saturated fat and calorie totals.
"Many things the government has been forcing on us we have been doing all along," she said, noting that since she has been a part of the district there have been no trans fats.
The government now requires more fruits and vegetables, she said, adding costs and regulations over which types and amounts of vegetables.
Overall, district food costs have risen the past three years, she said; this year's hike was 9.13 percent. There also is a shortage of fresh and canned fruits and vegetables, she said, because some distributors were not prepared for new government regulations.
Food waste by students also is a large problem, she said. She suggested one remedy could be modifying elementary serving lines to let students choose from a variety of fruit and veggies.
Ms. Magerkurth also wants to see Rock Island High School move to more of a food court system to lower the time students spend in line and increase the number of meals the district can serve. Her wishlist also includes replacing the kitchen site at the former Intermediate Academy to deliver better quality mealsat less expense.
School board members on Tuesday also heard a report on the district's gifted program.
Staff members are now recruiting qualified second-grade students for the voluntary program geared for the top 5 to 8 percent. It currently serves 12 third-grade students, nine fourth-grade students, 12 fifth-grade students and nine sixth-grade students.
The program provides accelerated pacing, enriched experiences, problem-based learning, above-grade reading and frequent guest speakers. The fifth-sixth grade room's students also participate in a technological design program.
Tuesday's school board meeting was the first led by new board president Linda Dothard. Earl Strupp, a former school board member, also rejoined the board after winning a seat in the April 9 election.