Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Going through our son's Friday folder, my wife and I wondered why District Eleven doesn't cut out the color 11 X 17 monthly menu?  We would like to see things like that cut before we begin cutting back teachers and custodians.  

District 11 received special funding from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) that can only be utilized to fund the Colorado School’s Harvest of the Month program which teaches our community through the D-11 elementary menu about the value of eating fruits and vegetables and staying physically active.  This outside money effectively reduces the cost of these color menus to just 2.6 cents per menu, which is 2.5 cents below the cost of a black and white version that is not part of this program.

Unfortunately, any cost savings by the district’s Food and Nutrition Services program cannot be passed elsewhere in the school district because of the National School Lunch Program “federal” funding that makes up almost $6.2 million dollars of our SY2010 budget.  Federal law states that food service revenues (profit) must be utilized within the food service operation only.  The district’s Food & Nutrition Services fund does pay the district’s General Fund $693,954 (SY2010) for indirect costs associated with serving 24,000 meals every day so that we are “financially independent” of the district’s General Fund.  

Why should my child buy lunch/breakfast at school rather than bring it from home?

The school lunch/breakfast assures that your child is receiving a nutritionally balanced meal. More variety (as established by dietary guidelines) is easy to achieve through school menus. Also, the Federally subsidized meal is often less expensive than a meal of equal nutritional value prepared and packed at home.

Are there other advantages to my child’s participation in the school lunch/breakfast program?

Students learn good nutrition habits that provide a basis for better health throughout their lives.  School meals contain a variety of foods and offer students exposure to new foods. The better nourished student will generally have better attendance, be more attentive and have more energy to cope with school day opportunities.

 
What is the school lunch/breakfast program trying to accomplish?

The primary goal of the program is to provide high quality, nutritious meals to all students in District Eleven.  Eligible students receive meals free or at a reduced price.  An additional goal is to keep the price low for paying students. A nutritional goal is to provide ¼ of the daily nutrient requirements at breakfast and 1/3 of the requirements at lunch.

Why are there so many "starchy" items on school lunch Menus?

The American diet has been evaluated over the past few years and it has been found that we eat more protein and fat than necessary. U.S. dietary goals state that Americans should eat about 55% of their calories as complex* carbohydrates.  In line with this and the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines, our menus offer the recommended amounts of protein, fruits, vegetables, and grains.  (* whole grain breads, rice, and flours)
 
Please note: With children who are active it is very important to fill their diet with a good supply of complex carbohydrates. If there is an inadequate supply of these foods in the body and the child is very active, the body will begin to use up protein that has been stored in place of the complex carbohydrates. That protein is muscle tissue.

For more information about carbohydrates in children’s diets, please go to:
Colorado Springs School District 11 Food & Nutrition Services Response To Inquiries About Low-Carb Diets For Kids.

What about the concern of excess fat in food being bad for children?

Our School District has taken many steps in reducing fat in school lunch. Current National School Lunch Program Guidelines recommend 30% or less fat in school lunches when averaged over a week’s time. Only 10% of fat calories should be from saturated fat.

Can schools serve any foods they want?

Menus must meet school lunch program meal pattern requirements. Meals are planned with a goal of providing students with one third of their Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for key nutrients and calories at Lunch.

How do you minimize wasted food?

To decrease food waste in the school breakfast and lunch programs, we utilize the "offer vs. serve" system. Students must select an entrée, then they choose between 2 and 4 additional items. Students are allowed to self-serve many side dishes, giving them control over portion size.  Very little food is discarded and some leftover food in District 11 Secondary Schools is given to a local Care and Share™ agency.

What about the student who may still be hungry after the meal?

Portion sizes are determined by the quantities needed to meet age level requirements for calories, protein, fat, calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron and Fiber.  Quality of food, not the large quantities, is what builds healthy bodies.  While not all students fall into the category of still being hungry, there are those who may have eating habits that are based on bulk rather than nutritional needs. The USDA program is based on nutritional requirements of different age groups. We do offer certain items of which students may choose to take additional servings. These are typically vegetables or fruits.  

What about the vegetables that are often not appealing to school-age children?

School age children often do not "like" and thus eat very few vegetables and fruits. This can lead to a deficiency in many nutrients, especially vitamins A and C. For this reason schools are required to offer fruits and vegetables rich in these two vitamins two or three times a week. Schools offer a variety of such food items so children will be more likely to find one they will eat.

Why do the menus have so many items perceived as "junk" food?

For some reason, a lot of people feel that hamburgers, pizza, tacos, etc. fall into a category called "junk" food. These foods do have nutritional values that contribute to a balanced meal. Foods of no nutritional value are not served. Foods such as hamburgers, pizza, and tacos that are nutritionally prepared can be both healthy and readily accepted by children.

Why can’t excess food be given to the students as seconds?

The food service works very closely with the schools to have them project a number of students eating lunch each day. Theoretically, there should be very little left over.   If you give something to one student in the District it would be discriminatory not to make it available to all students. The District is not in a position to offer "seconds" to all students on a consistent basis.

Some leftover food in District 11 Secondary Schools is given to a local Care and Share™ agency.

What is commodity food and why do we use it?

Commodity food is food that is made available to a school district through the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). The amount of food that a school district receives is based on student participation in the school programs. The type of food offered is based on the extra commodity foods available throughout the country. This food is made available to the school district for the cost of delivery only. We use as much commodity food as we can to keep costs down in the productions of meals, and thus keep the cost down for the student. The USDA is continuing its efforts to reduce the fat, sodium and sugar content of commodities.

Who writes the menu? What is the process?

Our dietitian, together with other members of the School District’s Menu Committee develop a five week menu cycle. Student preferences, nutritional value and kitchen requirements are all considerations when writing the menu.

Why do we collect meal tickets at the end of the line?

To qualify for a reimbursable meal – the meal must be verified at the end of the line to be sure the student has selected the right number of items to qualify as a full meal – it allows the student the option of selecting an entrée, beverage, and offerings. This is how we are able to verify that we are serving the correct number of components at each meal. All student meals are subsidized by the Government.

Why is the school lunch price set at its present level?

The price of a school lunch is based on the cost of the food, labor and paper products used to produce school meals. A portion of the price of school lunch is used to cover maintenance, utilities, equipment depreciation, administrative and other related costs. The school lunch program is self-supporting (not supported by the General Fund) and is a non-profit entity.  The District 11 School Board sets meal prices each year as a part of the budget process.

Who determines the price of the school lunch?

The school district determines a suggested price of each lunch. The final decision is made by the District 11 School Board after public discussion. Prices are only increased when necessary to maintain the program’s ability to cover all of it’s costs.  The District 11 Food & Nutrition Services fund is not supported by the General Fund and is a non-profit entity. 

What training do Food and Nutrition Service employees receive?

Department Leadership is continuously offering staff training sessions at all levels of the District 11 food service team. Everything from understanding food and labor costs to the correct way to prepare food is available. As a result of this "on the job training concept", most of the food service team is promoted from within. There is also ongoing training in sanitation and safety awareness.  All new Food and Nutrition Service employees are trained in food safety within the initial orientation period. 

Why is there a price difference between the Student Meal and the Adult Meal?

The Government provides monetary support for only student meals allowing us to charge less for the meal. However, by law, the adult meal price must provide enough monetary support to cover the costs of food, labor, and paper goods of each adult meal served. Although the entrée and milk are a standard serving, items from the offering table e.g. fruit, salad, vegetable may be chosen at a slightly larger portion. The adult meal still is considered a bargain when compared to the nutrient value, caloric content, variety, and price of many restaurants or purchased "lunchables." 


 
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