India’s school lunch program may be imperfect, but it deserves credit for feeding millions

Schoolchildren in Haryana, India eat rice and kadhi, a curry made with onions, garlic, yogurt and fritters made with chick pea flour.
Credit:Rhitu Chatterjee

One day earlier this summer, I visited a government school in a village called Dujana, in the state of Haryana.

Listen to the Story.

During the lunch break, little, skinny girls dressed in blue and white checkered kurtas (tunics) and navy blue shalwars (loose cotton pants) stepped out of their classrooms and headed straight toward a line of empty, dilapidated looking rooms at the far end of the school compound. There, in front of the rooms sat two women with a giant vat of steaming hot khichdi, a dish made of rice mixed, lentils and vegetables.

The girls lined up in front of the women with empty lunch boxes in hand. One by one, the two women doled out a ladle full of the freshly cooked khichdi to each girl. The girls returned to their classes to eat their free lunch.

This was my first time witnessing India’s mid-day meal program in action. I was touched by the sight. There’s something about the sight of emaciated children eating hot, freshly cooked food that they wouldn’t otherwise get that doesn’t allow you to be the detached, distant observer that we journalists often are.

But it wasn’t until I ventured deeper into the state of Haryana, into one of its hunger-stricken areas, that I really understood the program’s impact on children. As I describe in this story, in a village in the district of Bhiwani, most children go to school having eaten just a left over piece of bread and tea, or baasi roti aur chai, as mothers in the village would put it. Most families can’t afford vegetables or lentils or eggs.

As a journalist writing about health and development, I knew how widespread hunger and malnutrition still are in my country. But I’d never witnessed what that looks like for real people until I started reporting this series. And it was this project that helped me understand how a relatively simple idea of one freshly cooked meal a day benefits India’s millions of poor children.

Food rights activists and economists I spoke to while reporting this series, told me of places elsewhere in the country where children go to school on an empty stomach. The mid-day meal is their first meal of the day and their only regular source of vegetables and lentils, and in some states with better lunch menus, eggs.

“There are about seven-eight states that now give eggs in the school meal,” says Dipa Sinha, an economist and researcher at the Center for Equity Studies, a New Delhi based non-profit. She is also an activist for India’s Right to Food Campaign.

Sinha told me about one of her own visits to audit a government school in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh to see how well the school lunch program was working. The state had recently started offering eggs in their school lunches.

“There’s a box in the school where you can put in any complaints you have regarding the meal,” she says. “We opened it and one of the letters in that box was from a girl in class four and it was a Dalit girl, who said ‘thank you very much, I got to eat an egg in my life for the first time.’”

Now, remember India has the highest rate of child malnutrition in the world. According to The World Bank, rates of child malnutrition are five times higher than in China and two times higher than rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. And the undernourishment usually sets in pretty early, within the first three years of a child’s life. Whether the lunch program can alleviate the effects of early childhood malnutrition with just one free meal a day is poorly understood — although one recent study suggests it does.

But what is no longer debated today is that the mid-day meal program rescues children from dire hunger and improves their diets.

This isn’t to say that the school lunch program has no shortcomings. In fact, the program is riddled with problems, and how well the program works varies from state to state.

Every now and then one reads about incidents of food poisoning through the school meal. The worst of those cases occurred last year, in the state of Bihar, when 23 children died and more were hospitalized, after eating a lunch that was contaminated with pesticides. Another incident occurred just earlier this week in New Delhi, but thankfully the children are safe. The case is still under investigation.

What these incidents illustrate is a glaring lack of monitoring and accountability.

In the state of Tamil Nadu, which has the longest standing school lunch program, the state employs a “noon meal organizer,” for every three schools in a district. The organizer’s job is to make sure everything runs smoothly.

In other states, the job falls in the laps of already overburdened teachers who aren’t compensated for the extra work required to implement this program. As a result, there’s very little supervision and monitoring and no way to hold someone accountable when problems occur.

But as I wrap up my work on this series, I am left feeling an immense sense of awe. I’m in awe that in a country as vast and diverse as India, where everything is slowed down by red tape and corruption, the mid-day meal program has more or less succeeded in what it set out to do: improve child nutrition and increase school enrollment and attendance. After all, it is the world’s largest school lunch program and feeds 120 million of the country’s poorest children.

As economist Jean Dreze put it to me, “India gets too little credit for what it’s accomplished with this program.”

Rhitu Chatterjee’s Mid-Day Meal reports were produced with help from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Wordware, Inc. POS Solution Lunch cashier System (LCS 1000 Mayflower) – Point of Sale for Schools & Corporate Cafeterias

Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower) represents the next generation in Enterprise Hospitality POS management systems for school and corporate cafeterias.

Offering a new standard in systems and data management integration, Wordware assures a level of operational reliability, flexibility, scalability and affordability second to none in the industry. Simple to use, yet extremely powerful, Wordware versatile architecture puts power at your fingertips. Whether it be adding a client, changing a menu item from a central site or reformatting the layout of reports, Wordware’s gives users the flexibility to customize details to any specification

Peer-to-Peer Architecture

Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower) was designed with peer-to-peer architecture providing the highest degree of security and fault tolerance. This topology allows for all terminals to be connected yet work independently (locally or district wide) ensuring continuous cafeteria operation even in the event of a network or host computer failure or both!

With Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower)’s advanced data synchronization capability, transactional consistency is maintained on all terminals at all times!! The result is maximum system availability.

Scalable and Flexible

Using the latest in database technology, Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower) was designed with scalability in mind. LCS 1000 Mayflower ‘s database management system is fully ODBC and SQL compliant ensuring that third party systems can easily integrate with LCS 1000 Mayflower.

Furthermore, LCS1000 Mayflower ‘s flexible design gives the user the option of choosing the enterprise database server of choice. Consequently, with LCS 1000 Mayflower ‘s advanced architectural design, coupled with its platform independence open database flexibility, the user’s technological investment is protected now and well into the future.

With incomparable operational capability, a comprehensive feature set, powerful reporting abilities and superior fail-safe data redundancy and data synchronization management, LCS 1000 Mayflower offers an integrated, enterprise wide system solution designed to raise the level of business practice.

National School Lunch Program Compliant

Developed in accordance with the Free and Reduced Lunch Program of The National School Lunch Program (NSLP), a federally assisted meal plan operating in public and non profit private schools and residential child care institutions.

Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower) helps cafeterias to both streamline client throughput and provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

Enterprise Reports

Wordware, Inc. School POS Solution (LCS 1000 Mayflower) is not only easy to use for cashiers but for management as well. Reports can be generated at any time and at time intervals measured in minutes. LCS 1000 Mayflower s intuitive graphical user interface leads operators through each step making it straight- forward for even the least literate computer users to feel comfortable with.

Do you want information about Cafeteria Point of sale Software for coffee shops Contact us right now!

Wordware, Inc. Cafeteria Point of sale Software system  can provide your business affordable, scalable, robust and customizable systems with touch screen hardware.

The ability to also put in a concession stand, snack bar, coffee shop or any counter service restaurant is also a standard option with any Wordware CafeteriaPoint of sale Software system purchased. POS Software for Cafeteria’s and Salad Bars leverages over 25 years of POS software development and experience to empower your business with a wide array of customizable features and functionalities giving your business a competitive edge and allows your business to deliver a enhanced customer experience. Cafeteria Point of sale Software platform or act as a standalone fast and seamless management software servicing many small to large corporate facilities seeking to internally track and manage these services to employees or to the public

We can help you realize how your business can utilize the affordable, feature rich, award Point of sale Software system, will provide your Cafeteria or Salad Bar the ability for fast service and the tools to manage and market your business. Manage and bill all employees Cafeteria POS Software for Cafteria’s and Salad Bars can provide you increased sale growth, cash flow and profits!

If you are integrating us with a Grocery Store, Market or adding to your current Wordware Point of sale Software platform remembers any restaurant situation, Salad Bar or Cafeteria there is always a wealth of information in the customer data base that comes standard with every Wordware’s Cafeteria Point of sale Software system.
1000’s of reports come standard with every Wordware’s Point of sale Software system for specialty food stores.  Run any report for a sale, inventory total sales by department. A robust customer database, customer loyalty, email and direct mail marketing features along with real time inventory are all standard in any Wordware’s Cafeteria Point of sale Software Cafeteria’s and Salad Bars.

Wordware School Lunch Software LCS1000 Mayflower chooses ePayTrak 4.0

Wordware’s robust, reliable, and feature-rich School Lunch Software Mayflower LCS1000. Wordware School Lunch Software LCS1000 Mayflower chooses ePayTrak 4.0 to integrate with their new LCS1000 system. Parents can now view their balances in ePayTrak, make payments and even set auto payments based on low balance values.  EduTrak’s proven technology solutions are hard at work powering improved operational efficiency, enhanced administrative productivity and upgraded convenience at dozens of schools and service organizations across North America.
Offering education program administrators new opportunities to do more with less, our easy-to-implement, fully customizable payment, registration and resource management applications are designed from the ground up to meet the unique needs of a vast array of education organizations.
Wordware’s School Lunch Software Mayflower LCS1000  are designed to integrate seamlessly with current systems, ensuring that existing credentials, readers, and user databases can be retained. The DataBridge allows each of these programs or portals to send information back and forth. With the DataBridge, a school does not need to maintain multiple databases of the same student list, they can maintain one and sync the rest with databridge.
Currently the LCS mayflower works seamlessly with hundreds of Student Information Systems. Many of our customers use Synergy, Infinite Campus, Power School, JMC, Skyward and more. The DataBridge has worked with every SIS that we have encountered. EduTrak maintains and is actively pursuing a variety of strong business and technology partnerships including reseller relationships, technology licensing and cooperative marketing programs.

  • Eliminate the need to maintain multiple databases
  • Maintain one database and sync the rest
  • One to many and many to one
  • Facilitate information for multiple departments within the district

“Three factors separated EduTrak. They were affordable, easy to implement and incredibly responsive to our needs.” – David Wagman  PEF President

Under this best-of-breeds partnership, Wordware’s School lunch software platform is integrated with online payment gateway.  EPayTrak 4.0 Features for Families and Students. For families and students, ePayTrak 4.0 provides flexibility and ease of use:

  • Individual payment account: Users can set up their own accounts to make payments, pull payment reports, review scheduled transactions, and more!
  • Transaction history: Users can easily browse past transactions with a simple click of the mouse
  • Browse the school’s offerings: Users can bypass the login process and browse through the site, selecting classes, services, or products to place in their shopping cart. At time of purchase, they will be required to log in, or register for a new account

About Wordware

Wordware, Inc., founded in 1983 and headquartered in Mendota Heights, MN, provides software applications for cafeteria business. Wordware’s  LCS mayflower system is expandable to concessions, school store and could be integrated with Student information system, which makes perfect advance solution for your school. Wordware Inc, Lunch payment system is a simple and secure way for schools to connect, transact and manage all their school payments solutions.
Contact Us.
Corporate Headquarters:
Wordware, Inc. 2526 Northland Dr:
Mendota Heights, MN 55120;
Email: sales@wordwareinc.com
www.wordwareinc.com
call us at (800) 955-2649

About EduTrak

With offices in Wayzata, Minnesota and Boulder, Colorado, EduTrak Software is a subsidiary of Advanced Payment Technologies. Our experienced team brings more than a decade of expertise to development and delivery of ecommerce and payment software solutions.
EduTrak Software – Minnesota, 700 Twelve Oaks Center Drive, Suite 252, Wayzata, MN 55391
Toll free:  1-877-EduTrak (338-8725)
Email:
General Information: info@edutrak.com
Sales: sales@edutrak.com
Customer Support: techsupport@edutrak.com

Wordware, Inc. Announced That the Company Has Entered Into an Exclusive Partnership With FEEZEE

Wordware, Inc.  announced that the company has entered into an exclusive partnership with FEEZEE for proving online payment options to its clients in global market.

Wordware’s robust, reliable, and feature-rich School Lunch Software Mayflower LCS1000. FEEZEE is an integrated software platform that manages online payment features in many ways, its single high-security platform for any kind of business. FEEZEE allows end-users to control, manage, monitor, pay safely, prevent unwanted access, maintain compliance, and provide a robust audit trail. Secure payment processing on any device from a leading credit card payment processor.

Wordware’s School Lunch Software Mayflower LCS1000  are designed to integrate seamlessly with current systems, ensuring that existing credentials, readers, and user databases can be retained. The Wordware DataBridge is designed integrate data across multiple software applications within a School District. Our Databridge allows software applications to send information back and forth. The DataBridge allows each of these programs or portals to send information back and forth. With the DataBridge, a school does not need to maintain multiple databases of the same student list, they can maintain one and sync the rest with databridge.

Currently the LCS mayflower works seamlessly with hundreds of Student Information Systems. Many of our customers use Synergy, Infinite Campus, Power School, JMC, Skyward and more. The DataBridge has worked with every SIS that we have encountered.

  • Eliminate the need to maintain multiple databases
  • Maintain one database and sync the rest
  • One to many and many to one
  • Facilitate information for multiple departments within the district

“Wordware is excited to announce our partnership with FEEZEE, our exclusive online payment partner for School Lunch Software Solutions all over country,” said Manager  “We truly appreciate FEEZEE’s  expertise and are eager to support their growing channel partner network.  FEEZEE’s solutions, local knowledge, and experience complement our physical access product offerings for the market.

Under this best-of-breeds partnership, Wordware’s School lunch software platform is integrated with online payment gateway. FeeZee helps manage personnel access, online account management, credit card payment  etc. Wordware and FEEZEE will target customers in all kind of schools. These high customers require custom School Lunch Software with  policies that suit their individual needs and hassle-free deployments with seamless integration between software, hardware, and policies. • Easy online application • No complicated software to set up • No software or annual license fees FEEZEE Provides: • Secure, online payment processing from any mobile or internet capable device • Flexible payment options for your customers • An intuitive, easy to use interface • Reporting to help you manage payments • Customer receipts

About Wordware

Wordware, Inc., founded in 1983 and headquartered in Mendota Heights, MN, provides software applications for cafeteria sector. Wordware’s  LCS mayflower system is expandable to concessions, school store and could be integrated with Student information system, which makes perfect advance solution for your school. Wordware Inc, is the market leader in online Lunch payment system, most of the schools saves time and money using our unique and techno advance Lunch payment application software.  Lunch system makes your school to monitor money administration easier and will reduce time spent on managing the school meal service. Wordware Inc, Lunch payment system is a simple and secure way for schools to connect, transact and manage all their school payments solutions.

Contact Us. Corporate Headquarters: Wordware, Inc. 2526 Northland Dr: Mendota Heights, MN 55120; Email: Sales Information: sales@wordwareinc.com www.wordwareinc.com  call us at (800) 955-2649

About FEEZEE

FEEZEE is an easy to use payment processing solution that allows you to process credit cards, debit cards and ACH transactions with a simple interface launched right from your web site. FEEZEE does all the heavy lifting of payment processing so you can focus on the things you need to do to make your business successful. Don’t get bogged down with setting up merchant accounts, creating reports and managing software, let FEEZEE handle it and start accepting online payments today.

Solutions available for education and businesses that need to process payments electronically.Why FEEZEE? It’s easy. Contact sales@fee-zee.com, or call us at 844-5-FEEZEE (844-533-3933) for more information visit www.fee-zee.com

The Importance of the Point of Sale (POS) System

By on

 

Point of Sale (POS) equipment is the computer-based order-entry technology many restaurants use to capture orders, record data and display or print tickets. Restaurant servers, bartenders and cashiers can all use POS systems to easily enter food and beverage orders.

POS Capabilities

The POS acts as a cash register as well as a computer. In fact, the POS can consist of multiple stations, including credit card terminals, receipt printers, display screens, hostess stations and server stations. Having a POS system in place can add convenience, accuracy and save time in busy situations. In fact, is has the ability to perform a multitude of functions, including the following:

  • Calculate cash due for every order entered
  • Record the method of payment
  • Keep track of the cash in the cash drawer
  • Create hourly and daily sales reports
  • Allow hourly employees to clock in and out
  • Calculate labor and payroll data
  • Record daily check averages for each worker
  • Keep track of menu items sold
  • Record information on repeat customers

How Employees Use POS Systems

Keep in mind that some systems work differently than others. User processes will be different depending on restaurant type and service style. The following steps represent the general process of taking an order with a POS system:

  1. The employee enters in his or her name or user code into the initial touch screen. This allows the worker to access the system.
  2. The employee begins a new order or check by entering in food items the customer orders. For full service restaurants, the employee is also able to choose a table number and add food to an existing check.
  3. The POS sends this all order information to the kitchen or bar in the form of a printed ticket or on a digital display monitor.
  4. The kitchen or bar employees read the order and make the appropriate food or beverage for the waitstaff or other employee to serve the customer.
  5. In a quick-service restaurant, the employee will read the total charge on the POS display, and collect payment from the customer. In full service, the server will bring a check, wait for payment, then enter it into the POS when the customers are finished.

Where to Set Up the POS

Touch screens can be located in many different places around the restaurant, depending on the layout and the service style. For quick-service or fast-casual restaurants, the POS systems are usually located in a visible place, often close to the front doors of the restaurant. In a full service restaurant, the POS is usually located in a discreet location so as not to interfere with the ambience or the dining experience.

Advantages of Digital Display Systems

Modern POS systems, especially those in large chain restaurants, have digital display components. Technically called kitchen display systems, also known as KDS screens or “bump screens,” the order pops up with clear information as to what food was requested, the time the order was placed, the table number and the server name. When the food is prepared and finished, the kitchen worker will hit a button on the screen, effectively “bumping” it from view and recording the time it was finished. This is an especially effective way to stay organized, communicate the status of orders, and record speed of service information.

Specific POS Configurations

You should purchase a POS for your specific restaurant type, especially if your operation has any special requirements. However, the software can typically be configured to your exact operation specifications such as your restaurant menu items and prices.

Use Your POS to Gather Marketing Data

The POS has the ability to record phone numbers, email addresses or order information, such check average per table or party size. The POS can build a database of customer information. Later, in your direct marketing campaigns, you can use this information to personalize your promotions and tailor them to specific types of customers.

What to Look for in a POS System

Every POS system differs based on its software, hardware and application. When looking for a POS system, do some research online and check out several different companies. You can even request a demo from a salesperson. Make sure the POS system you choose is one that fits your restaurant concept, service style and business needs. After all, this software can take a big bite out of your budget. When choosing the right POS system for your operation, be sure to consider the following:

  • Price and quality.

Before you buy, make sure you know your business volume and system needs so you know your money is appropriately spent. POS software can cost $2,000 or more, and the terminals themselves can be up to $5,000 per station. Extra features and add-on options like digital displays or hand-held terminals usually add dollars as well. Warranties can add yet another yearly cost. Always ask sales representatives for price quotes, including all hardware, installation, software upgrades and support before deciding if a POS system is for you.

  • Necessary hardware components.

Make sure you purchase both the hardware and the software for the POS system. Hardware includes the touch screen monitor to place at the point of sale—usually at the service counter, behind the bar or at the waiter station. Hardware also includes any necessary network servers, customer display equipment, kitchen display systems and even portable terminals and handheld devices.

  • Software to track data.

Software includes all the programs you need for the point of sale, back of the house financial and inventory reports, gift card capabilities and even customer self-service. Software can even use labor data to help you create employee schedules, making a tedious task less time-consuming.
Learn More »

  • Financial reporting capabilities.

Make sure that your POS software allows you to retrieve your financial information in detailed, coherent reports, ideally on the back of the house (BOH) terminal where you can properly analyze the information.

  • User friendliness.

A POS system that is confusing or requires extensive training may not be worth the hassle. Not only will it frustrate employees but it will slow down speed of service for customers. Also, be sure the orders are easy to read and understand. In a busy kitchen, there is no time for mistakes.

  • Technical support.

It is not a matter of if there will be a problem, but when there will be a problem with your POS system. Hopefully the problem will be minor, but just in case, it helps to know that you have experienced technicians available to help in times of crisis.

foodservice school program, foodservice school program, business lunch software, food service point of sale, foodservice point of sale, cafeteria POS program, cafeteria POS software

Opting out of school lunch program appeals as a palatable option

| Saturday, March 5, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

Students at Penn-Trafford High School aren’t buying that lunches prepared under federal guidelines that restrict calories, sodium and portions are their best option.

So they literally are not buying them.

“I would say, on average, we’ve lost about $20,000 a year each of the last five years,” Penn-Trafford business manager Brett Lago said of lunch sales since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was enacted. “We are not in the food service industry to make money, but we don’t want to lose it.”

Penn-Trafford’s lagging lunch sales are part of a state and national trend since menu restrictions were tightened, federal statistics show. School lunch participation nationally dropped from 31.6 million students in 2012 to 30.4 million in 2014, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Pennsylvania statistics show school lunch participation dropped by 86,950 students in the same two years, from 1,127,444 in 2012 to 1,040,494 in 2014.

As a solution to slumping sales, Penn-Trafford officials may opt its high school out of the National School Lunch Program, which limits meal choices, allowing them to put favorites like Pizza Hut pizza back on the menu.

“We’ve had some issues concerning regulations from the NSLP and how they are affecting menu selection and preparation,” Lago said. “I think (the guidelines) are very counterproductive to what they are trying to achieve.”

Lago and other critics of the federal program say it can be wasteful — requiring students to take a fruit or vegetable they don’t want and won’t eat, for instance. Limits on menu choices and reduced portions — especially for high school students used to buying unrestricted lunches — also mean fewer sales.

“I think this may be a trend, going forward: Districts are going to want to step back from the program,” Lago said.

National and state numbers show the trend is in its infancy. About 100,000 U.S. schools could participate in the program, and 524, or half of 1 percent, opted out in 2013-14, according to the most recent USDA figures.

In Pennsylvania, 34 of 858 districts pulled at least one school out of the program in 2015-16, according to USDA spokesman Chris Kelly.

A limiting factor in opting out is that districts lose federal meal subsidies when they do. Federal reimbursement rates this year are $3.07 per meal for students who are income-eligible for free lunches; $2.67 for those who qualify for a reduced price; and 29 cents for all others sold.

For Penn-Trafford — about 200 of the high school’s 1,350 students qualify for free or reduced lunches — that means a loss of about $100,000 annually in federal subsidies.

Lago said he is “cautiously optimistic” that offering a new menu at a slightly higher cost, plus increasing a la carte sales through a broader selection of foods, could compensate for the federal shortfall.

Allegheny County’s South Fayette High School used that formula to success after pulling the plug on the National School Lunch Program in the 2014-15 school year, though it had to make up only $20,000 yearly in federal subsidies. Food service director Tricia Woods said 95 percent of students now buy their lunches from the school.

“The kids love it. The percentage is high for participation,” Wood said.

Wood said much of the menu is still rooted in federal nutritional guidelines, especially those set before further restrictions called Smart Snacks in Schools were added in 2014.

“Being off the program doesn’t mean you are just going wild,” she said.

The school’s basic lunch menu price is $2.30; fruits and vegetables are provided, not mandated, Wood said.

“The biggest factors were that we have a huge amount of a la carte sales and low free and reduced lunch sales,” said finance director Brian Tony. “We have a positive food budget balance. I’m not arguing with the results.”

Manheim Township High School in Lancaster County was among a handful of schools in Eastern Pennsylvania that dropped out of the federal program in 2013. Food service directors there all said student participation lagged as more restrictions were added in each year after the Hunger-Free Act was passed.

“We were comfortable with the guidelines until 2013,” said Manheim food services director Gavin Scalyer.

But with the district’s free- and reduced-price-eligible student population growing to 28 percent, Scalyer said, even offering a lucrative and popular a la carte menu may not be enough to cover lost federal subsidies, so Manheim is considering whether to reenter the program.

“Every school district wants to ensure that students from low-income families have access to free meals at school, so dropping out of the federal program means taking on the cost of providing those free meals,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, School Nutrition Association spokeswoman.

At private schools with few or no free-reduced lunch students — such as Sewickley Academy in Edgeworth — the decision not to participate in the federal program can be easier.

But public schools would have difficulty offering a menu of Cajun chicken pasta and beef stroganoff at a price of $5.95, as is offered at Sewickley. Metz Culinary Management, the food service provider for Sewickley, also serves Franklin Regional School District in Murrysville and Riverview School District in Oakmont, Allegheny County. Prices for lunches at those schools are $2.55 and $2.50, respectively.

“We have not been approached by any of our public school partners to move off the National School Lunch Program,” said Metz’s Jim Dickson, senior vice president of education. “However, if a public school wanted to move off the NSLP, we can still provide nutritional and wholesome meals without the federal funds and maintaining a budget.”

At Penn-Trafford, food service provider Aramark is expected to present options and costs outside the federally regulated program to the school board this month. Lago said the board likely will decide by April whether to opt out of the federal program in the fall.

“The board will decide if it makes sense to try it. We would still offer healthy lunches, but we wouldn’t be hamstrung,” Lago said.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

www.wordwareinc.com

School lunch program could save $103 billion

Curt Ellis, CEO, FoodCorps

Last week, Congress passed a last-minute spending bill to keep the government’s lights on for the next three months, but they let the Child Nutrition Act expire. While the emergency funding bill covers school lunch, school breakfast and other critical nutrition programs for kids, our nation’s students need more than a stopgap approach. Because no matter how you look at it the numbers add up, the science is clear, and history tells us: an investment in our kids’ health is a wise and necessary one.

Let’s start with the math: One in three of our nation’s kids is overweight or obese, and as a country we spend $190 billion a year in medical costs to fight this epidemic. But these costs aren’t just incurred by health insurance companies; they’re a major burden on taxpayers. The biggest single driver of our national debt is health care spending through Medicare and Medicaid. Research has shown that spending would be much lower for these programs – 8.5 percent and 11.8 percent respectively or $103 billion in 2014 alone – were it not for obesity. This cost will only increase as our nation’s “obesity generation” grows up. In 2030, direct medical expenses attributed to diet-related disease will hit an annual cost of $66 billion per year, and the overall loss in economic productivity could be as much as $580 billion annually.

A file photo of a school cafeteria.

Baerbel Schmidt | Getty Images
A file photo of a school cafeteria.

What science tells us about the obesity epidemic is just as worrisome. The research paints an alarming portrait of obesity’s effects on a child’s health, happiness and human potential. In the near term, an obese child will have fewer friends, miss more days of school and score lower on tests. As she becomes an adult, she will be less likely to go to college, be out sick more at work and under perform in her career. Before her life is over, she can be expected to battle weight-related illnesses – heart disease, diabetes, cancer or all three – and to raise children who themselves face elevated risks of obesity, sending the spiral into another downward turn. Making matters worse,diet-related disease takes a disproportionate toll on low-income children and children of color, erecting another barrier in our nation’s fight for equity and opportunity.

Thankfully, recent history demonstrates how we can begin to address the problem. The 2010 version of the Child Nutrition Act, known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, was a bipartisan and particularly health-supporting version of the every-five-years bill that funds our nation’s school meal programs. It set high standards for school meals around whole grains, fruits, vegetables and proteins, an essential step toward treating our nation’s epidemic of diet-related disease for the 31 million children who eat school food. Implementation of these ambitious standards has been challenging, but in districts where they have been met with creativity, resourcefulness and hard work, students have embraced the healthier diet they are being offered. And it’s paying off: it appears the obesity epidemic is finally beginning to reverse.

The organization I co-founded, FoodCorps, launched alongside the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act five years ago. Through hands-on nutrition education in the classroom, gardening and cooking lessons in the schoolyard, and kid-led taste-tests and recipe development in the cafeteria, FoodCorps leaders have partnered with farmers, teachers,parents and food service teams to help some 500 schools become healthier places for kids to eat, learn and grow.

The combination of garden-based education and improved school meals is rooted in a research-backed approach to connecting children to healthy food, known as “farm-to-school.” In addition to raising school meal standards across the board, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act also supported farm-to-school grant funding at $5 million a year. Now, with research showing that the farm-to-school approach works and the demand for the program five times greater than Congress originally earmarked, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives has stepped up with a call to increase the program’s funding to at least $15 million annually in this year’s Child Nutrition Act.

When Congress debates the upcoming Child Nutrition Act, they will decide what our children eat in school for the next five years. Congress’ role as our nation’s Lunch Lady must be taken seriously. With this vote, our legislators have an opportunity to stand firm and protect the high standards for fruits, vegetables, grains and protein that have made school lunches healthier, and to scale up the funding for farm-to-school initiatives that have gotten millions of kids excited to eat healthy food.

In passing a bipartisan bill that takes another step forward in the fight for healthy kids, Congress has a chance to give voters just what they want; a recent poll by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation showed that 86 percent of Americans want school nutrition standards to be strengthened or maintained, and 88 percent support increased funding for farm-to-school programs. Congress also has a chance to show that they’ve done their homework and learned a fundamental lesson: healthy food is a building block for health, opportunity and human potential––and every child deserves it.

Curt Ellis is the co-founder and CEO of FoodCorps, a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who connect kids to healthy food in school.

What Are the Benefits of Healthy School Lunches?

| By Michelle Fisk

What Are the Benefits of Healthy School Lunches?
A nutritious lunch keeps your child healthy and gives her energy to do well in school. Photo Credit KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

As part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act established in 2010, the National School Lunch Program’s policies were revised to better guarantee that children receive a nutritionally sound lunch. The changes ensure that schools offer fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, low-fat dairy products and limit calories, saturated fat and sodium. As a parent, you can follow these same guidelines if you pack your child’s lunch. A healthy school lunch provides sound nutrition to establish a lifetime of healthy habits and the energy your child needs for the rest of her busy day.

Provides Key Nutrients

It’s vital your child eats a healthy lunch, because lunch provides one-third of his daily calories. You want to make those calories count by offering nutrient-dense foods. Children who eat a healthy lunch have a higher nutrient intake not only for lunch but also for the entire day — compared to children who don’t — according to the website, Fuel Up to Play 60. If your child’s school gets federally reimbursed for school lunches, rest assured that his lunch is providing him with one-third of his daily needs for protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, which are critical nutrients often lacking from a child’s diet.

Limits Fat Intake

The American Heart Association recommends children get no more than 25 to 35 percent of their calories from fat, with most fat coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Think nuts, fish and vegetable oils as opposed to pizza, cake and cookies. This is enough to support normal growth and development, and to meet your child’s energy needs while supporting sound heart health — for now and the future. A healthy school lunch limits fat to less than 30 percent and saturated fat to less than 10 percent of overall calories over the course of a week.

Prevents Obesity

Dr. Dan Taber, an investigator for the research program, Bridging the Gap, told the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that providing children with healthy foods at school is a key step in decreasing childhood obesity rates. School menus or foods from home that are high in saturated fat can lead to obesity and associated health conditions, which include diabetes and high blood pressure. Healthy options, such as high-fiber foods, whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products, will fill up your child and keep him full longer. This can prevent unwanted weight gain and chronic health conditions.

Boosts Energy and Grades

When children don’t eat a healthy lunch, it’s harder for them to concentrate at school and to muster the energy for after school activities. They’re also more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks later in the afternoon. By offering a healthy school lunch, your child will get the energy he needs to power through the afternoon. A study published in 2008 in the “Journal of School Health” examined the eating habits of nearly 5,000 school children. Children who ate more fruits, vegetables and protein and fewer calories from fat, performed better on literacy tests compared to children with a high-fat, high-salt diet.

 

The National School Lunch Program – pros, cons, and how to get your kids eating healthier

The National School Lunch Program’s supplies meals for over 21 million low-income, food insecure children around the country. For many, it is the only meal they will eat all day, so the USDA created specific guidelines to ensure these students are receiving the most nutritious meal possible.

New Standards for School Lunches

The latest federal program concerning standards for school meals is the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. In its original form, the law authorized the funds to extend current child nutrition programs and free lunch programs for 5 years; updated the nutritional standards to include more whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean protein; and gave the USDA authority over schools’ nutritional standards and regulations.

Plenty of criticism has been leveled at the one-size fits all nature of the law as well as the ability of the government to dictate lunch options. The School Nutrition Association, a corporate sponsored group, has been the most vocal opponent of the act, saying that districts are unable to meet the guidelines and that students are throwing the healthier food away. Despite these claims, a Food Resource and Action Center study found that the low-income students who are the focus of the National School Lunch Program are receiving more benefits from the new law, and the USDA reports that 95% of schools have been able to meet the program requirements.

It is possible to get students to eat healthier foods. Schools who have successfully implemented healthier options have done so by slowly introducing these items to students, introducing wheat bread one day and a new vegetable a few weeks later. If no one introduces today’s kids to whole grains, different fruits and veggies, and new foods, the odds of them trying anything new greatly diminishes as they grow older. If we roll back efforts to introduce kids to healthier foods, we will leave our next generation at a serious disadvantage.

Food Education

Yes, schools have a responsibility to feed their students a healthy lunch. In a perfect world, school lunches wouldn’t require students to drink low fat milk and to prioritize grains rather than promoting the lush nutrition and healing power of vegetables and fruits.

Food education is often ignored. We have found that many young students can’t even identify common vegetables. But education can make a big difference in the quality of food a child chooses and their willingness to try new foods. How many of the schools serving local food are telling the students what they are doing and what the benefits are? Teaching children how to cook fresh food and how to plant and tend a school garden lays a foundation of healthier attitudes toward food and nutrition. But why should our schools be the only ones introducing children to healthy foods and teaching them how to eat?

Learning about food and healthy eating starts at home. There are so many ways you can get your kids excited about eating fruits and veggies and teach them how to be lifelong healthy eaters and by extension enjoy a much better quality of life. The earlier you can introduce your little one to healthy foods, the better. But even if your children have already been introduced to some of our more unsavory food items, here are some tips you can use to turn Mr. Chicken Nuggets and Pizza Girl into kale fiends:

  • Let them cook with you. Even if something is ghastly, kids are much more likely to try it and like it if they are the ones who put in the work.
  • Smoothies are a great way to slowly introduce veggies to resistant kids. A great nutrition powder can be a great addition to those.
  • Turn your little one into a gardener. Gardening will get them outside, teach them patience and responsibility, and get them excited about what they’ve created.
  • Keep offering new foods. Maybe the cauliflower wasn’t successful last time, but that’s no reason not to try it again later.
  • Lastly, be the example! This is so important, because kids are naturally interested in what adults are doing. If your little one sees you snacking on and enjoying carrots and kale chips, they are that much more likely to have positive association and be willing to try them.

Here’s an ultra healthy smoothie that’s kid approved: http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com. For more information on healthy eating, check out the first two sources below.

Sources:

http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com

http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/issue/11-80-raw-food-diet/

http://www.thelunchtray.com

http://www.npr.org

http://frac.org

http://www.fns.usda.gov

http://www.fns.usda.gov

About the author:
Kristina works at Green Lifestyle Market. A few years ago Kristina was no stranger to illness, but she decided to pursue health and vitality through natural means when she became pregnant. She quickly learned that she could prevent morning sickness and other common ailments other pregnant woman experienced with the right diet. After a healthy home birth, and a beautiful child, she never looked back. Kristina has not had so much as a cold since, and at two years old and unvaccinated, neither has her child. She’s passionate about natural health, environmental conservation, and raising her healthy baby without pharmaceuticals.