This month health officials have focused on what they call an epidemic of overweight or obese children. One of the factors – school lunches. Midge Milici, Bishop Schools Chief Business Officer pointed to Food Service Director Susan Nelson and her award-winning school lunch program.
The last review of Bishop’s cafeteria lunch program netted the National School Lunch Program Award. A new review will take place soon. Milici said that Nelson has developed a menu to meet the fact that school lunches are “highly regulated by the federal and state governments. Their mandates deal with calories, fats, sodium and sugar and they are different for different age groups.
While school lunches have a bad rap to live down, Milici said “huge efforts” have been made. Menus now include fresh fruits and vegetables and balanced choices. With school district unification, Milici said that the cafeteria program in Kindergarten through 8th grade has now expanded to the high school with the Bronco Caf.
Students can buy a balanced meal of protein, vegetables and fruits for $2.50. The high school does operate an open campus at lunch time, so students can go anywhere in town. At least 50 students have opted to go to the Bronco Caf instead of local fast food restaurants. Milici said the school option is less expensive. She said it’s a work in progress and that Susan Nelson is open to ideas for the menu.
For elementary and middle school students, the cafeteria program serves 650 to 700 lunches per day and 160 to 180 breakfasts. Milici points out that school food service provides essential food for many children. She said 57% qualify for free or reduced cost meals.
Milici said the Bishop School District is “trying to be pro-active.” Last summer, they secured funding for free lunches for local kids most of the summer. 120 children from a number of Bishop area programs ate lunch at the school. Food Service Director Nelson has worked 9 years in Bishop schools, 5 years at Round Valley and before that, Whiskey Creek Restaurant.