Posted in General

Hungry for Information About CSD’s Food Services?

Colchester School District’s food services program, headed by Steve Davis, aims to provide wholesome, nutritious, and affordable meals to our students. There is quite a bit to this great program that you may not be aware of. Care to know more?

First of all, federal regulations dictate a specific set of nutritional requirements for school meals. Specifically, school meal programs must meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as determined by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, every effort is made to offer affordable nutrition in our schools. Government commodities, such as cheeses, meats, and canned fruits and vegetables, assist with the affordability of school meals, but the district’s food service team works really hard to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and whole-grain breads. Much of the food prepared for our schools is made from scratch; little of it is pre-prepared. And did you know that you can also view the nutritional content of the meals served in CSD’s schools? Food Service Director Steve Davis creates all of the menus for the schools from scratch, and the nutritional information is posted on the district website’s food service page. Click here to view it!

CSD’s food service professionals employ healthy food preparation methods and health-enhancing nutrition practices. In addition to creating most of the offerings from scratch from as many fresh, local, and healthy ingredients as they can, they also saute with healthier oils and even water where possible. Upgraded kitchen equipment has allowed for better food preparation, as well. Some of the professionals in CSD’s food service group will also attend the Child Nutrition Program Summer Institute later this summer for additional hands-on training and more information about the use of whole and local foods in our schools.

All cafeterias in Colchester School District utilize an exclusively cashless, computerized payment system. Instead of cash, all students have a cafeteria account into which funds are deposited. In this way, all meals are prepaid.

There are a number of benefits to using an exclusively cashless system. For example, only food items can purchased, and cash cannot be taken out of an account, so parents can be assured that the money they designate for their children’s meals is being used for that purpose. In fact, parents can even view records of their children’s food purchases online. Parents also have numerous ways to pay for school meals, including by check on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. This eliminates the hassle of doling out money every day and eliminates the risk of children losing the cash. The cashless system also expedites the lunch line process. To learn more about how to pay for student lunches, please click here.

On the subject of paying for meals, let us emphasize that we would like to provide meal benefits to as many families as we can. Because many families often do not realize that they qualify for free or reduced-price meals, Colchester School District encourages all families to complete an application. Currently, approximately 27 percent of CSD families participate in the program. The applications for the 2011–2012 school year are currently being revised by the state and will go home with students on the first day of school, along with information about school lunch prices.

CSD participates in the National School Lunch Program. Because income limits have increased and savings is no longer a disqualification, more Vermonters than ever are eligible for food assistance. Did you know that if you receive the VT Earned Income Tax Credit, Reach Up, or SSI, you are financially eligible for 3Squares VT? And if you qualify for 3SquaresVT, your children are eligible for free meals at school. Most foster children are also eligible for free meals regardless of their guardians’ income.

For more information about these programs, you can also visit the Vermont Department of Education’s website for school nutrition programs or 3SquaresVT’s website. Lynn Brennan, manager of the district’s free and reduced-price meals program, can also help. Please call her at (802) 264-5984 or e-mail her at brennanl@csdvt.org.

The district’s food service team even provides staff catering for district meetings!

The food service program is always looking for parent volunteers and for feedback about its offerings and services. Please e-mail Steve Davis, CSD’s food service director, with any comments, questions, or concerns.

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