Report: State agency ill-equipped to spot school district foodservice fraud

In recent years, the California Department of Education ordered eight districts to repay about $170 million to student meal programs, report says.

COLTON, Calif.—Recent mismanagement issues with the nutrition services departments of two San Bernardino County school districts, Colton Joint Unified and Rialto Unified, are among a series of similar problems in California made worse by “overmatched” state investigators facing what could be a flood of such cases, according to a report prepared last year for the state Senate.

Released in February 2013, “Food fight: small team of state examiners no match for schools that divert student meal funds,” prepared by the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, depicts a financially strapped oversight system with less than one California Department of Education inspector for every 50 public school districts.

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Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation
cafeteria

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Building...
Ideas and Innovation
hydroponics

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

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