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Healthier Meals for Town’s School Children [Update]

Lunch prices will increase by 25 cents in the new school year; food service workers to receive modest raise.

 

[Editor's Note: This article has been edited to reflect the correct number of cashiers working at Roger Sherman School and Riverfield School cafeterias.]

Fairfield school children will eat healthier in 2012-2013, but whether they will be patient enough to wait in long lines to the cashier is another story.

Joann Fitzpatrick, manager of food and nutrition services for , presented the Healthy Food Certification Program to the Board of Education Tuesday night at the BOE headquarters on Kings Highway East.

After some discussion, the board unanimously approved the program, which takes effect July 1.

“This is all over the national news,” said board member Perry Liu. “We’re being pro-active and this is our way of saying, ‘We’re looking out for your kids.’”

Another BOE member, Sue Brand, concurred. “If we give them a good (nutritional) foundation now, I think we won’t be seeing some of the problems we’re having now,” she said.

Among the new USDA meal standards for the town’s school system are:

  • A major increase in vegetables and fruits.
  • In grades K-5 and 6-8, three quarters of a cup of vegetables must be served per day; in grades 9-12, one cup of vegetables per day. Fruits must be served daily: one-half cup for grades K-5 and 6-8, one cup for grades 9-12.
  • Half of all grains must be whole grain. There are minimum and maximum grain servings per week.
  • At least two milk choices must be offered daily. Favored milks must be fat free. White milk must be 1 percent lowfat.
  • There are minimum and maximum protein servings. For example, the daily minimum for K-5 is one ounce; the weekly range is 8-10 ounces.
  • There are calorie minimums and maximums for three grade ranges: K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

"This is considerably different than what our kids are used to,” Fitzpatrick said. “Larger portions of colorful fruits and vegetables.

“This is the first time in about 15 years that the standards have been raised by the federal government,” she noted.

During the discussion period prior to the vote, some BOE members voiced their concern about the long lines in the school cafeterias. “Some kids say it takes too long and they don’t have enough time to eat,” was the consensus.

Fitzpatrick said that a second cashier will be added at in the fall. will continue to operate with one cashier.

The Board of Education approved, by an 8-1 vote, a 25 cent increase in school lunches for the 2012-2013 year. John Convertito registered the nay vote.

The board also approved a 2 percent raise and benefit adjustments for the schools’ 78 food service workers, 7-2. Brand and Liu cast the dissenting votes.

Fairfield lags behind many state communities in compensation for its school cafeteria employees, with a current hourly range of $12.48-$13.69. Greenwich, by comparison, pays $15.81 per hour for the same work, Milford $14.92 per hour.

“What are we talking about here? Twenty-five cents?” said board member Jennifer Kennelly, pointing to the hourly increase for each food service worker. She voted in favor of the raise.

The next BOE meeting is scheduled for June 26 (7:30 p.m.) at 501 Kings Highway East, second floor conference room.

 

J Selznick June 13, 2012 at 04:16 PM
ARE YOU JOKING? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? BRAND AND LIU VOTED AGAINST A TWO PERCENT RAISE FOR OUR TOWN'S FOOD SERVICE WORKERS???? THESE WORKERS MUST BE AMONG THE LOWEST PAID PEOPLE IN TOWN!!!! ARE BRAND AND LIU DEMOCRATS OR MEMBERS OF THE TEA PARTY? I THOUGHT I VOTED FOR DEMOCRATS, NOW I'M COMPLETELY ASHAMED TO HAVE VOTED FOR THEM. WHAT POSSIBLE EXCUSE COULD THESE BOARD MEMBERS HAVE FOR VOTING AGAINST A RAISE FOR OUR LOWEST PAID WORKERS? YOU'RE TELLING ME THE REPUBLICANS VOTED IN FAVOR AND BRAND AND LIU VOTED AGAINST??? THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS. BRAND AND LIU MUST HAVE JUMPED OFF THE DEEP END- THIS IS CRAZY.
FFLDRESIDENT June 13, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Great idea but how much of the extra servings of colorful fruits and vegetables are actually going to be eaten, and how much really just ends up in the garbage
Frank Chernoff June 13, 2012 at 08:23 PM
J Selznick, I don't think you should worry too much about this. Sue Brand wants to run for state rep. She's just sacrificing some little people to achieve a larger objective.
Marion Gallen June 14, 2012 at 08:24 AM
Liu, "we're looking out for your kids". Maybe Liu, but you sure aren't looking out for the employees who listed a bunch of positive changes they are making for the kids. Must be nice living up on the Hill looking down on the little worker bees just scraping by trying to earn a living working for those kids.
Fairfielder June 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I have worked in the school cafeterias, and yes, most of the fruits and veg end up in the garbage. On waffle day, they receive two waffle sticks (equalling about half an actual waffle) and FOUR turkey sausages (you can't believe how salty those things are). Not filling at all. Not balanced either. Whoever is making these menus doesn't have a clue what kids will eat. Too bad, so much waste.
Jason Silver June 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
If you care about the health of your child, you will prepare a bagged lunch! Plain and simple. As a teacher in a nearby district, I can tell you that the cafeteria food in schools is garbage. Avoid at all costs. Both of my children bring bagged lunch. Never once have they purchased cafeteria food. And honestly, it doesn't cost much, I have control over what they are eating, and it really only takes a few minutes at night to prepare lunches for the next day. Parents....Be parents! Prepare lunches yourself!
Frank Fielder June 15, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Where are the Brand groupies on this one? Little by little you will see the proof, look you in the eye while she stabs you in the back. That's Brand! This was low, run over minimum wagers to grab political support. shameful political move.

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