District loses money over healthier school meals

A revamped healthier cookie recipe cost the district $26,000 in lost revenue.

July 25—Students in the Tomah Area School District gave a thumbs-down to healthier school lunch menus.

Business manager Greg Gaarder told the Tomah School Board July 15 that revenues for the school hot lunch program fell by nearly $75,000 last year and wiped out the food service’s fund balance.

Gaarder and food service director Jesse Bender blamed the drop on menu changes designed to improve nutrition, provide fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce the amount of fat and sodium.

A change in a cookie recipe alone accounted for $26,000 in lost revenue.

“There was less appeal,” Bender said.

Gaarder said the district needs to consider changes if the food service is to remain self-sustaining. Without changes, Gaarder said the district would be forced to dip into general funds.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources