Archive for the ‘Food Services’ Category

logoThe Lake County Schools food service program was recently reviewed by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, and passed the evaluation with no issues or concerns cited in the final report.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires an accountability system designed to ensure that the schools comply with the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program requirements. The state review evaluated both programs in Lake.

State agency staff members reviewed adherence to the free and reduced-price meal policy for breakfast and lunch, meal pattern and nutritional quality, school food resource management, and general program compliance. They examined documents, interviewed personnel, evaluated menus and observed meal services.

The team concluded that “no corrective action is required” in any area.

“The Review Team would like to thank the district and site level staff for their hard work and daily commitment to serving Florida’s students,’’ reads the report, which was released earlier this month. “The district’s knowledge of the federal program was evident during the administrative review.”


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Three schools from Lake County Schools — Minneola Charter Elementary, Round Lake Charter Elementary and Triangle Elementary — have been recognized by the HealthierUS School Challenge for creating healthier school environments through the promotion of good nutrition and physical activities.

Minneola and Round Lake charter elementary schools were recognized as bronze award winners while Triangle Elementary was a gold award recipient. To qualify, schools must meet stringent criteria for the school meal program, nutrition education, physical activities and school policies which support a wellness environment.

The HealthierUS School Challenge is a voluntary national certification initiative for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the initiative encourages schools to take a leadership role in helping students make healthier eating and physical activity choices that will last a lifetime. Schools, such as these three schools in the Lake County School District, work hard to make changes to their school nutrition environment in order to:

  • Improve the nutritional quality of the foods served
  • Provide students with nutrition education
  • Provide students with physical education and opportunities for physical activity.

The bronze award includes a monetary prize of $500 and the gold award includes a monetary prize of $1,500. In addition to the monetary awards, schools will receive an award plaque signed by a USDA official, a banner to display in their school, and their name listed on the Team Nutrition website.

For more information about the Healthier US School Challenge log on to http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/HealthierUS.

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Dancers from the Orlando Magic and the team’s mascot, Stuff the Magic Dragon, paid a special visit to Lake Hills School last week to promote healthy lifestyles.

Dancers talked to students about the importance of getting a good night rest, eating balanced and healthy meals and exercising regularly. After brief introductions, the Magic Dancers invited students to practice a few dance moves and Stuff handed out autographed photos of his furry self.

Reinforcing the message of eating right is an important topic for students, says Gary Dodds, Director of the Food Services Department at Lake County Schools.

“It’s not all about putting healthy items on the menu,” he said. “They have to choose to eat it. Half the battle is making it look attractive to them so hopefully they will try some healthier options.”

The chance to interact with Stuff and the Magic Dancers was a one-of-a-kind opportunity for many of Lake Hills’ students, which serves students with moderate to profound disabilities.

“The kids know who Stuff is,” said Robin Meyers, Principal at Lake Hills School. “Many of them don’t have the opportunity to go out to game so this is magic for them.”

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After getting a jump start on USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) revised nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch with some implementation beginning last school year, students at Lake County Schools will continue to see slight adjustments on school menus this year.

The revised standards double the amount of fruits and vegetables served at lunch, with the notable exception of starchy vegetables.

“The District implemented these new standards last year, which gave us a whole year to experiment so we are ready for the new regulations,” said Gary Dodds, Supervisor of the Food Services Department at Lake County Schools. “These new regulations, as well as changes made by the District, make school meals healthier than ever with more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, reduced or zero TransFats, salads and salad bars, low-fat dairy items, baked items rather than fried and healthy cooking and prep techniques.”

School meals must meet new federal nutrition standards requiring:

  • More fruits and vegetables, including weekly servings of leafy greens, red or orange vegetables and legumes (Students must take at least one serving)
  • More whole grains
  • Fat free or 1 percent milk
  • Age-appropriate limits on:
    • Calories
    • Portion size
    • Sodium
    • Trans and saturated fat

Every school lunch at Lake County Schools includes five key components:

  • Milk — Fat free or 1 percent
  • Vegetables — From jicama to fresh carrots
  • Fruit — Everything from kiwi to locally grown oranges
  • Grains — Whole grain breads and brown rice
  • Protein — Lean meats and beans

The Lake County School District is the largest food preparation service in the entire County. On each school day, the cafeterias serve breakfast to about 9,500 students and lunch to about 26,000 students. The cost for the District’s school breakfast program is $1 for students in elementary school; $1.25 for students in secondary school; $.30 for reduced priced students; and students eligible for free lunches are also eligible for free breakfast. The District’s school lunch program costs $1.85 for students in elementary school; $2.10 for students in secondary school; and $.40 for reduced priced students. For more information, including online payments, free & reduced applications and school lunch menus, are available at http://www.lake.k12.fl.us/foodservices.

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More locally grown citrus, berries, tomatoes, celery and carrots may soon be finding its way to the cafeterias of Lake County Schools courtesy of a new contract with an area distributor.

The Lake County School Board approved a contract on Sept. 26 with Todd’s Quality Tomatoes of Sanford, Fla., to establish firm prices and delivery of fresh produce to school cafeterias. The joint bid also included the school districts of Alachua and Marion counties.

The additional fresh produce being shipped to the school cafeterias helps the Food Services Department at Lake County Schools get a jump start on USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published revised nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The revised standards, which will go into effect next school year, double the amount of fruit served at breakfast and the amount and variety of fruits and vegetables served at lunch, with the notable exception of starchy vegetables.

 “We’re seizing this opportunity to support local farmers and improve the health of our students,” said Gary Dodds, Supervisor of the Food Services Department. “The District has implemented these new standards giving us a whole year to experiment so we will be ready for the new regulations next year.”

The additional fresh produce will aid in some of the new standards that were implemented for school menus including:

  • Increasing daily serving of vegetables from ½ cup to 1 cup (elementary students at ½ cup)
  • Weekly ½ cup serving of dark green vegetables, orange vegetables and legumes
  • Weekly 1 cup maximum of starchy vegetables (such as corn, green peas and lima beans)
  • Increasing daily serving of fruits from ½ cup to 1 cup (elementary students at ¾ cup)

For more information about school menus, log on to www.lake.k12.fl.us and select the Food Services Department.

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The Food Services Department at Lake County Schools is pleased to announce it is one of 12 school districts statewide selected to participate in the 2011 Bucks for Breakfast Dairy Optimization Grant. As a result of the grant award, Umatilla High, Umatilla Elementary, Triangle Elementary and Seminole Springs Elementary will each receive $5,000 for its breakfast programs.

“Lake County Schools is dedicated to helping bring more students to breakfast,” said Gary Dodds, Director of the Food Service Department. “Through these grants from the Dairy Council of Florida it will help our schools improve student access to high-quality, nourishing breakfast foods.”

The 2011 Bucks for Breakfast Dairy Optimization Grant provides an opportunity for school districts to create, enhance and expand alternative-site breakfast programs. Grant funds can be used to purchase items necessary for service, transportation, cooling, heating, promotion, marketing, education and sanitation. The Bucks for Breakfast grants are sponsored by the Dairy Council of Florida and Florida’s dairy farmers. According to the award letter from the Dairy Council, “The School District of Lake County was chosen because of its strong, progressive wellness focus.”

The grant funds will help Umatilla Elementary and Seminole Springs Elementary with its Breakfast in the Classroom program by purchasing milk crate bags to deliver food to classrooms. In an elementary classroom setting, students eat breakfast while a teacher may read aloud to the class or have students read materials relevant to the day’s lesson. Studies show students who routinely eat a nourishing breakfast perform better in school and have lower rates of absenteeism and tardiness.

Umatilla High and Triangle Elementary will primarily be using the grant funding on its Grab n Go Breakfast program. By purchasing kiosks that are set up near the school entrance, students can get breakfast without going to the cafeteria. Triangle Elementary is implementing this program only one day a week and the remaining days will be breakfast in the classroom.

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Students at Triangle Elementary School will soon have a variety of fresh vegetables fruits to select during lunch thanks to a recent $2,500 grant from the Great American Salad Bar Project.

“Our students look forward to salad bar days,” said Kathy Billar, Principal of Triangle Elementary. “They love the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables our cafeteria staff always prepares for them.”

The project is sponsored by Whole Foods Market and the F3: Food Family Farming Foundation. The award was announced last month, and kits are due to be shipped this month. Triangle Elementary will receive a portable, five-well Cambro salad bar complete with utensils, pan inserts, chilling pads and training tools. Criteria for the award included a school’s commitment and its ability to sustain the program.

Triangle’s students are served salad twice a week. The salad bar will help cafeteria staff meet the nutritional needs of their students, of whom almost 79 percent are on free or reduced lunch. The development team for the grant included Triangle Principal Kathy Billar and Food Service Manager Carol Brewer and Geoff Nordhoff of the Grant Services Department.

Whole Foods Market and Chef Ann Cooper joined forces for a second year to help bring fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins to school lunch programs and raise awareness around healthier school food through a project that funded salad bars for public schools across the country.

From August to September, shoppers at Whole Foods Market donated to the project at the check-out or made a donation online through saladbarproject.org. The salad bars were donated to local schools through a simple online grant process. Whole Foods Market partnered with Cooper’s nonprofit, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, which administered the process.

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