The federal government significantly restructured the school lunch program in the new school year, with the intent of increasing the nutritional content of the meals.
The result, at least initially, has been to severely curtail the variety in the menus and added a host of headaches to implement the new program.
School officials also expressed frustration with the changes, explaining that the federally-mandated program requires that all menus and recipes are carefully tracked. Any changes in menu or recipe must be approved before they can be served in the schools. They add that the concerns are being heard at schools throughout the sprawling district.
District Business Manager Clayton Holt explained that the district has little recourse since the federal government pays for about 85 percent of the cost of the meals. The district would need to find more than one million dollars a year to take over the school lunch system.
The changes impact not only the content of the food, but also the volume of food. Parents in La Sal complained that some of their children are coming home hungry because school lunch does not provide enough food.
Officials state that the goal is to increase the nutritional content of school lunch, which means more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods and less fat, sugar and calories. The process to implement the changes will take time.
The parents also asked about the aging school in La Sal, stating that it is out of date.
In other matters, District Transportation Director Debbie Knight discussed adjustments to existing school bus routes and the addition of three new routes in the Red Mesa area. The State of Arizona will not allow Utah students to attend school in Red Mesa. As a result, an estimated 60 students are now attending school in Montezuma Creek. The new bus routes are designed for the new students.
Knight said the district is working closely with road departments and doing all they can to accommodate bus needs. The district is pushing the buses and the drivers with the added routes.
The school board is one step closer to implementing a new fund raising policy. The intent, in part, is to limit the number of solicitations made to the communities by the schools and students. While schools will still have fund raising efforts, direct door-to-door solicitation will be eliminated.