[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.