Child Nutrition Services (CNS) is continuously improving meals and services to meet nutritional requirements, provide a variety of menu items, and give customers the healthiest choices with the freshest ingredients available. CNS has added fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain pastas, and whole grain breads to all menus. CNS will continue to evaluate dried bean and legume dishes for optimum health for all students and staff.
The District has an ongoing Wellness Policy that reinforces the importance of student health. To supplement what Child Nutrition Services is doing, District schools are part of the "Team Nutrition Schools", a national designation from USDA. Many of the schools are applying for the distinction of "Healthier US". The "Healthier US" Challenge is sponsored by the USDA and provides status documents to the community about the changes made by schools to assure healthy, nutritious and customer satisfying meals are being served. USDA also acknowledges the status of nutrition, health and physical activity opportunities.
Child Nutrition Services' goal is to be efficient and cost effective in providing nutritious, well-balanced, and reasonably priced meals. The meals served within the District are School Breakfast, School Lunch, Summer Food Service Lunch, Child Care Food Program snacks and lunch, Family Foundation suppers, as well as meals and snacks at other contracted sites such as East Dakota Educational Cooperative. Child Nutrition Services also prepares bakery items and caters school events. In addition, Child Nutrition manages over 200 special diets for students from Early Childhood through Grade 12.
Meals are prepared at the Food Service Center and all secondary schools by 140 employees. These sites serve an average of 14,908 school lunches and 840 child care lunches per day, which reflects a participation rate of approximately 72 percent of the students across the District, Early Childhood through Grade 12. Child Nutrition Services serve an average of 2,249 breakfasts per day, which reflects a participation rate of approximately 11 percent of the students, Early Childhood through Grade 12, across the District.
Child Nutrition Services pays all expenses directly related to the Food Service Program. The program budget also covers indirect costs, such as custodial pay, education assistants' pay, benefits, and utilities. The Child Nutrition Services' budget is based on past records and actual expenditures for the 2010 fiscal year. Revenues are generated from student and adult cash sales, federal reimbursement, commodities, and interest earned on savings.
Child Nutrition Services has successfully met many benchmarks set for the department. We have implemented cycle menus to meet customer wishes, have gone to once a year bidding on food and supply items, have implemented an automated ticket system at all District schools and programs operated throughout the District; for example, the Scarbrough Center, New Tech High School, Flex-Structured Teach Program, Joe Foss School, and Joe Foss Daycare. In the 2010-2011 school year, the District implemented e-Funds which allows families at all District facilities to make internet deposits into their student's meal account. Child Nutrition Services has moved to an automated inventory and purchasing system, and has automated the approval of free and reduced meal applications. All of these innovative changes, have helped Child Nutrition Services to maintain program quality and efficiency.
Both the automated ticket system and e-Funds have provided positive changes and have resolved many issues, including confidentiality concerns and having money in the student meal accounts. These changes have created efficiencies in getting students through the lunch line more quickly which allows them more time to eat.
The once a year bidding process has helped Child Nutrition Services to contain costs on food purchases. The ability to use USDA Commodity Entitlement Funds and USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Grant Funds to pay for specific food items have assisted Child Nutrition Services in keeping meal costs down.
Child Nutrition Services has always been, and continues to be, a leader in the implementation of Child Nutrition Programs. The District has a 99.8 percent average for health department scores which reflects an adherence to federal regulations, state regulations, and local health department regulations. Child Nutrition Services is reviewed every two years and includes reviews of regulation implementation, menu analysis, and meal observations. The latest menu review documented that the District has met the federal guidelines for calories, percent of calories from fat, and the percent of calories from saturated fats. The District also has a Supplemental Food Policy that helps to monitor foods high in sugar that are sold in the Child Nutrition Program, school vending machines, and school stores.
Child Nutrition Services remains committed to providing healthy and affordable school meals for all.