Students trashing school lunches

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lorene Randazzo, Coordinator of the Bogalusa City Schools’ Child Nutrition Programs, told School Board members Monday night students are throwing away plenty of good food.

Randazzo recently participated in a discussion in Baton Rouge concerning the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The discussion centered on school nutritionists’ top concerns. A survey later followed.

“The survey revealed that increased food costs ranked as the most challenging of 10 key issues facing high school nutrition programs,” Randazzo said. “Of the 92 percent of respondents reporting that rising costs pose a serious or moderate challenge to their programs, 70 percent indicated it was serious.”

Uneaten food finding its way to trash cans was high on the survey.

“The amount of food being thrown in cafeteria trash cans ranked second among key challenges,” Randazzo said. “Fewer than 3 percent of respondents indicated increased plate/food waste is not a challenge for their meal programs. But 87 percent reported waste was a serious or moderate challenge.”

Randazzo said other major concerns were federal sodium requirements and decreased lunch participation. Some 86 percent of district students participate in reimbursed meals and 61 percent of district students participate in breakfast.

“U.S. Department of Agriculture data had shown that since schools began making required menu adjustments, more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day,” Randazzo said. “This declining participation experienced across 49 states cuts revenue for school districts already grappling with higher food and labor costs. The School Nutrition Association notes the USDA estimates the regulations will force schools to absorb $1.2 billion in new food and labor coasts this fiscal year.”

The District’s Federal Programs director, Shelley Gill, said asked School Board members for permission to advertise for E-rate bids on telecommunications, Internet access and internal connection.

Gill said said Dec. 18 is the department’s Christmas event at the Parent Resource Center at Northside on Mississippi Avenue.

Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Director April Nobles said the Christmas Cantata is 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the high school auditorium.

Finance and Business Director Deloris Walker said the department was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Government Finance Officer Association.

Walker said the School Board plans to consider adopting a resolution ordering and calling for an election to be held within the Bogalusa School District to authorize the renewal of an ad valorem tax at the Jan. 29, 2015, School Board meeting.

The School Board meets again tonight at 5:30 p.m. for its regular monthly meeting. Among the items on the agenda, School Board members will elect new officers for 2015.