Fairfield school meals rise 15 cents
Classes in the Fairfield Community School District dismissed for summer break less than two weeks ago, but it’s time to be thinking about the next school year.
A one-day student registration is planned from noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 5, at Fairfield Middle School.
Registration also can be done at the district’s Administration/Curriculum/Technology Center during regular business hours, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, beginning July 1. Fees can be paid at registration.
Meal prices are increasing by 15 cents each and milk will increase by 5 cents in the 2013-14 school year.
School lunches for grades pre-kindergarten through fourth grade will be $2.20 and the reduced price will be 40 cents; breakfast will be $1.45 and reduced price is 30 cents. A 20-count milk ticket will be $7.
Student lunches for middle and high school — grades 5-12 — will be $2.35 and reduced price 40 cents; breakfast will be $1.45 and reduced price, 30 cents. Extra milk or juice will be 35 cents.
Annual book rental fees remain the same as last year, which are: $39 for grades kindergarten through 4; middle school, grades 5-8 is $44; and $50 at high school, grades 9-12. A towel fee, grades 6-12, is $10.
Reduced and free lunch eligible families also pay a reduced fee or none at all.
Instrumental music fees are $10 per student at middle school and $15 per student at high school, with a maximum of $25 per family.
Activity tickets also remain the same, at: $120 family all season; $30 high school student; $20 middle school student; $60 adult all season; and a senior Golden Pass for patrons age 62 and older, $20.
Fairfield High School parking passes are $20.
Fred McElwee, director of auxiliary services, said the district is required to set meal prices within a range specified through a multi-step spread sheet calculation.
“The minimum we could raise meals this coming year was 10 cents,” he said Monday to the school board. “Due to the condition of the nutrition fund, we are raising it 15 cents.”
The district’s nutrition fund is owed $6,000 to $7,000 in unpaid accounts.
Board member Amy Miller asked if the district has plans for new menus.
“Have you looked at outside vendors for food service?” she asked. “Attending the school board conventions, I have talked with outside food services and they say they can keep a district’s same employees.
“They might come up with different menus.”
McElwee said he would like to keep the district’s food service in-house.
Guidelines prove challenging
New federal regulations for school meals went into effect last summer, restricting fat, sugar and sodium — as well as calories and serving sizes, which have since been adjusted — adding more fruit and vegetables to meals and increasing the use of whole grains.
“We had a dip in students’ purchasing school lunches at the beginning of the year, but it’s been coming back up,” said McElwee.
In his annual written summary and highlights of the 2012-13 school year to the school board, McElwee noted:
“The school year was challenging for the food service department. Compliance of the new meal patterns posed the opportunity to provide a different type of menu, serving more fresh vegetables and fruits, varying the type of fruits and vegetables, while meeting all other nutritional guidelines.”
McElwee wrote a continuing challenge is balancing the finances while maximizing staff and food product to provide a high quality nutrition program.
The district met the Department of Education standards and qualified in October for an additional 6 cents per meal reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Homemade treats not welcome
Changes also are being made in what foods and treats will be allowed to be shared at schools, outlined in the district’s re-written Wellness Policy and approved for a first reading Monday by the school board. Two additional public readings are required for adoption.
“Our focus is to bring our Wellness Policy in line with the Blue Zones initiative,” said Superintendent Art Sathoff.
The six-page Wellness Policy (Code No. 507.9) includes a section about communication with parents, and one of the five points is:
“Prepackaged or professionally prepared products will be used for healthy celebrations/parties, rewards and fundraising activities.”
This stipulation removes homemade treats being shared at school.
Sathoff said it’s a shift the board needs to be aware of as the policy is disseminated into the community.
“So many students have health issues and allergies and we’ve had some cases of illness spread from home preparations.
“This requires consistency in knowing the preparation of foods is done to certified standards,” said Sathoff.
Parents can purchase cookies baked by the district kitchen staff to share as treats or bring in packaged treats purchased elsewhere.
McElwee said he used the Wellness Policy template from the Iowa Association of School Boards and adapted it for Fairfield.
“We found it easier to scrap the previous policy and start over,” said Amy Miller, a member of the school board’s Policy Committee, along with Jeri Kunkle and Jennifer Anderson.
Another section of the policy highlighted by board members Monday is a statement about physical activity and punishment.
“Employees should not use physical activity (e.g. running laps, pushups) or withhold opportunities for physical activity (e.g., recess, physical education) as punishment.”
The introduction of the Wellness Policy states: The board promotes healthy students by supporting wellness, good nutrition and regular physical activity as a part of the total learning environment throughout the school day (bell to bell).
“So this is saying teachers shouldn’t keep a child out of recess as punishment,” said board member Kunkle.
But it still allows coaches leeway to have someone run laps or stairs or whatever, because the policy doesn’t cover time outside of school day hours, said a few board members.
The revised Wellness Policy can be reviewed at the district’s offices.
All district policies that are in effect are available on the district’s website, www.fairfieldsfuture.org.