The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 12, 2013

D118 board learns about food

DANVILLE — The Danville District 118 school board on Wednesday heard an annual update on the district’s food service department.

Food Service Director Greg Lazzell said the district has been proactive in making sure it fulfills the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new guidelines for healthier school meals that meet calorie and sodium restrictions.

In the last two years, more fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and skim milk have been gradually introduced to school menus throughout the district.

“Students need to take a fruit or a vegetable at every meal,” Lazzell said of the new requirements.

The menus throughout the district are 90 to 95 percent the same as Northeast Elementary Magnet School, which has received national recognition for its healthy school meals.

At Danville High School, snack cakes, candy and sugary drinks are no longer sold. Instead, baked potato chips or a cup of fresh strawberries are offered. Plans also are in the works to revamp the high school cafeteria, which hasn’t had a facelift in 23 or 24 years. The cafeteria will have a new look and a new name, Viking Landing, which was selected by the students.

Another change in store for DHS students when they return to school in the fall is that they will be able to purchase either a complete meal or a la carte items in every line at the cafeteria rather than waiting in a separate line.

Other food service department accomplishments in the past year include the addition of a new full-service kitchen at Kenneth D. Bailey Academy, a new kitchen and cafetorium at North Ridge Middle School and moving the free and reduced lunch application process to each school in the district, which has made it easier on parents who have more than one child at different schools.

Lazzell said the food service department accumulated an $800,000 surplus, which allowed the district to invest $200,000 in the kitchens and eating areas at South View and North Ridge middle schools and East Park Elementary School during the last two years.

A $500,000 surplus is predicted at the end of this fiscal year on June 30, however, that money is strictly to be used for the food service department because it is federal money that can be used only for food service. The surplus is used to reinvest in the district’s kitchens and to buy dishwashers, ovens and equipment.

The total food service department budget is about $3.5 million — 20 percent of which comes from the sales of food, less than 2 percent comes from state funding and the remainder is federal funding.

While state funding for food service is down $55,000, with the revamp of the DHS cafeteria and the addition of a la carte items — such as fruit juice and baked chips — at the middle schools next school year, Lazzell said he hopes the increased purchases in the cafeterias will result in increased revenue for the department.

The district serves 1.5 million meals a year, including breakfast, which has become a popular meal with students. The district’s breakfast numbers are up 5 percent over last year.

Also on Wednesday, the school board:

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