In an effort to try to improve school lunches — both nutritionally and with taste — the PISD board of trustees has decided to opt out of the National School Lunch Program in order to provide more menu flexibility. The district will only opt out at Prosper High School.
District Superintendent said the move will have little impact on the district financially but should have a great impact on student choice.
"Approximately 38-40% of our students currently participate in the food service program," Watkins said. "We want to increase that with additional healthy choices that students currently make outside of school partnered with other choices of their liking. We believe that we will be able to provide even more nutritious options that have a greater appeal to our students while at the same time provide a variety of other menu options that we are currently restricted by the government."
According to the USDA’s (the federal department in charge of overseeing the school lunch program) website, "The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 100,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2011.
The program uses standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new program implemented in August 2012, increases "the availability of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the school menu. New dietary specifications set specific calorie limits to ensure age-appropriate meals for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Other meal enhancements include gradual reductions in the sodium content of the meals," according to the website.
Opting out of the program will cost the district some federal money, but Watkins hopes the program will make up for it in increased lunch sales to students who might not eat lunch in the cafeteria now.
"In opting out of the program, the ISD will lose federal reimbursements connected with the free/reduced program, which will equate to approximately $60,000-$70,000," Watkins said. "However, with the freedom to develop a more appealing menu for our teenagers along with our student growth, we are projecting to negate those losses with additional revenue from food sales which would balance out in the end or maybe even realize increased revenue. Our goal in the food service program is not to ‘make money.’ We simply strive for a self-sustaining program."
This will be a "pilot program" at the high school campus for now. The district will continue to evaluate the program. Staff will develop a new menu over the summer and start the program in the fall. If the program is deemed a success, it could be expanded to the other campuses.
PISD also stress that nothing has changed with regard to parental control. "At any time, a parent can restrict the options of their child," Watkins said. "Parents will maintain total control of their child’s menu allowing them to impose parental restrictions as they see fit."
In other school board business:
n The board made a presentation to PHS Student, Allison Swain, regarding her Gold Award Project. Allison will be attending Duke University in the fall.
n The board approved the consent agenda, including a new calendar for the 2013-2014 school year.
n The board approved the purchase of new band uniforms.
n The Board took action to purchase an elementary school site (Centurian Development) located just south of U.S. 380 near Coit Road for $10 (essentially a donated site) saving the District approximately $850,000 based on current land prices.
The Board also approved a resolution to officially accept offers on a previously acquired property located on the north side of C.R. 1461. The Board is continuously evaluating future sites in locations all over the ISD.
n The Board approved the employment of the following: o Erin McClanahan – Head Volleyball Coach
The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 15.
The regular meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:20 PM.