3 tips for establishing a summer school-feeding program

School Nutrition Association president Julia Bauscher shares how she launched an initiative in her district near Louisville, Ky.

Published in FSD K-12 Spotlight

Katie Fanuko, Associate Editor

As school lets out for the summer, districts nationwide grapple with the problem of helping underfed students when they’re not heading into a classroom everyday. To address the issue in her community of Jefferson County, Ky., Director of School and Community Nutrition Services Julia Bauscher worked with the district to launch a program in 2013 called the Bus Stop Café. Retrofitted school buses are used to bring meals to students via 15 locations throughout the community. Bauscher, this year’s president of the School Nutrition Association, shares some takeaways from her experience.

1. Get multiple stakeholders involved

The Bus Stop Café concept was a district-wide effort that came to fruition when the district’s transportation department donated a bus that was older but still fully functional. When no outside parties offered to retrofit the bus, the district’s maintenance department did the work. “The way that the departments and the district came together to make this a reality was wonderful,” Bauscher says.

This summer, the program is bringing the larger community into the fold. Local police and fire departments will be visiting the bus’ routes to host safety training sessions for students and their parents. Additionally, a local arts group plans to host art and crafts classes for students.

2. Be flexible with meal planning

While the district was prepared to feed school-aged children, they didn’t anticipate parents bringing toddlers to the bus stops and didn’t have age-appropriate food available. Bauscher asked her staff at the district’s central kitchen to create a meal fit for toddlers and was able to offer it the next day. “We had moms in tears because there was food available for their youngest children,” she says.

3.Go where the kids are

A school’s cafeteria kitchen may be available for a program, but kids may be unable to get there every day, especially in a rural area like Jefferson County. This was one of the reasons Bauscher’s district opted for a mobile program. “Being able to take meals on the road and serve them in their neighborhood, at the public pool or the river boat dock where they are playing helps us to ensure that they have access to meals when school is out,” Bauscher says.

The Bus Stop Café’s two vehicles travel separate routes throughout the community to ensure that a large swath of the community is covered. Each spring, Bauscher and the district meet with local partners like the Dare To Care Food Bank in Louisville, Ky. to determine which additional areas need a bus stop.

“Those types of efforts and collaboration is what helps us raise the profile of the program,” she says.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation

Communication is key, and [managers] are busy too. One tip I picked up from another director was to label my subject line with the header “action,” “information” or “response” followed by a brief description of the email contents. That way they can filter through their inboxes during their busy days to know which emails need their attention immediately and which they can save to read later.

Ideas and Innovation
salmon and yogurt

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette, kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing, and leek soup with prickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Industry News & Opinion

Buckeye Union High School District in Buckeye, Ariz., has introduced monthly chef demos to encourage students to try different foods as well as healthy eating habits, AZ Family reports.

Each month, chefs conduct a lunchtime demo in the cafeteria at the district’s three high schools. After viewing the demo, students are then encouraged to sample some of the dish that was prepared.

The demos were introduced just after each of the cafeterias were renovated with a food court-style layout, allowing students to select from a variety of options during lunch.

Read the full...

Industry News & Opinion

Boston Public Schools is the latest district to join the Urban School Food Alliance, a nonprofit group that aims to help districts provide high-quality student meals while keeping costs down.

With the addition of Boston, the Alliance includes 11 schools and says it now reaches nearly 3.7 million students. The group has grown its total purchasing power to $831 million in food and supplies as it continues to increase its membership.

“Thanks to support from the Kendall Foundation, Boston’s membership in the Alliance will serve our mission of increasing access to locally and...

FSD Resources