Getting kids to eat their fruits and vegetables was the topic of discussion at the Bigfork School District board of trustees table during their regular meeting on Oct. 24. The district is currently adjusting to the new federally mandated lunch program, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires increased amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to food service supervisor Judy Kinyon, difficulties with the new lunch program spur from funding issues and getting the students to eat all of their fruit and vegetables.
The new federal requirement is that students must have a certain amount of fruit, dark green vegetables, red or orange vegetables, and beans or peas each week in order for the district to receive reimbursement. Kinyon said the cafeteria is taking an “offer versus server” approach, this means there are five components to their menu and the students have to take at least three items.
She also said this new program is similar to what Bigfork schools did in the past, but with lower calories and more fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, even when given a choice, the students aren’t eating all of it.
“It is a little on the wasteful side, but it is what the government has mandated,” Kinyon said. “A lot of schools are not happy with this, they don’t like that kids have to take the fruit or vegetable and we have seen a lot of waste.”
District clerk Eda Taylor affirmed that there has been more garbage coming from the cafeteria so far this year.
As an incentive to keep the changes to their lunch program, a performance based increased reimbursement of six cents per lunch served will be awarded after the school’s menu is reviewed. This reimbursement became available on Oct. 1.
Kinyon said the district currently funds the new program through federal funds, which are due to run out at the end of November. She said the extra six cents per meal wouldn’t cover all of the additional costs.
“We’re hoping enough people will complain that they will change it,” Kinyon said. “When you talk to OPI (Montana’s Office of Public Instruction), and at the classes I went to, they shrug their shoulders and say this is a whole year of learning.”
In other Bigfork School District news:
• The Parent-Teacher Association’s spring carnival raised $3,100 and they plan to do another in the spring of 2013. The PTA’s current fundraising goal is for new playground equipment and they are looking into obtaining matching grant funds.
• Bigfork High School students Seth Roessman and Isaac Riechner returned to the board with their request for an open campus for students with high grades and few tardies. This time around they presented their request along with information from neighboring Class B schools, three of which had open campus.
The board denied their request, citing concerns such as time restrictions, safety, workload on BHS staff, and fairness toward students who can’t achieve high grades as easily as others.
• The board approved moving $30,000 from the elementary school’s fund into the Inter Local Agreement Fund, an account that is accessible to the high school and elementary school. Taylor said this move is beneficial to the district as a whole, the funding would still be available to the elementary school if needed, and that the elementary school’s older sections have some heating problems to address in the near future.
• BHS purchased a classroom set of Kindle Fires, BHS principal Matt Porrovecchio said they are cheaper than iPads, which the district already uses.
• The board approved Sarah Taylor’s request to take a group of photography students to Northwest College in Powell, Wyo. for a photography shootout and to see the campus.
“One thing I will support to the end is getting the students out of the school,” Porrovecchio said. “Going to see a campus might inspire them to go.”