Graduating High School Seniors
Graduating seniors’ Foodservice accounts must be settled in one of the following ways:
Negative balances must be paid in full by May 31,2013. Failure to do so may affect student’s graduation.
Positive balances will be reimbursed to parents after graduation, or may be dispersed to sibling’s accounts upon request.
Please contact Tess or Tricia in the Foodservice Department. 781-786-5295/5296
Mrs. Teresa Sousa took over the district’s Food Services program in 2008. Since that time she has made many exciting changes in the High School cafeteria’s selection of meals, snacks and beverages, as well as developed staff to better prepare healthy food options.
Schools are bound by federal regulations established by the US Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch Program. According to their regulations, a whole meal comprises a meat or alternative, milk, fruit and/ or vegetable; and bread or grain based product. WHS students choose what they want to eat, cafeteria-style. If they select three to five of these elements, it is considered a “whole” meal and the foodservice department is reimbursed a portion of the cost by the government. Otherwise, the purchase is considered a la carte, and may not provide the nutritional requirements for lunch.
WHS students, especially those involved in after school activities, are a hungry bunch. Since 2008, the cafeteria has been offering a snack service 2:30-3:10pm, and many students eat three times a day. While Weston has been fortunate to have few problems with obesity, the "Healthy, Hunger- Free Kids Act of 2010" will be enforced by January 2013. In anticipation of these changes, the cafeteria has already improved the quality and variety of foods offered.
Mrs. Sousa has been gradually introducing locally produced foods, replacing some government provided commodities. Locally grown and organic choices have increased by approximately 30% in the last couple of years. For example, instead of purchasing USDA grade beef, Weston now procures grass-fed beef from Vermont. The lower fat content improves both nutrition and taste appeal of the recipes. Other additions include Stonyfield Farms Organic Yogurt, whole grain pasta and breads, and Garelick milk- produced without growth hormones or high fructose corn syrup. Land’s Sake is a frequent contributor to the High School’s pantry, providing tomatoes, field greens, peppers, leeks, kale, turnip greens, butternut squash, carrots and parsnips. The seasons provide variety and opportunities for changing recipes. In 2010, the cafeteria began offering free-range organic turkeys for the Thanksgiving meal.
The snacks provided by the High School have also become healthier. In accordance with the Institute of Medicines Standard for Foods in Schools and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 –, as well as Mrs. Sousa’s own nutrition philosophy, all snacks and drinks have lower sodium, fat and sugar content; there has been no discernable decrease in the consumption level.
Of course, using healthier foods has a financial cost, both in terms of higher unit prices and labor. The district manages prices by collaborating with other schools through a food cooperative that processes bids for milk, bread, groceries and snacks. On October 24th (National Food Day) and again in November, Weston High School hosted regional meetings to discuss Farm to School initiatives with several Metrowest communities. Since 2004, the Massachusetts Farm to School Project has been matching schools and farmers to create sustainable relationships that provide direct sales routes for local farmers and affordable prices for schools. Mrs. Sousa noted, “I’m very excited about partnering with other Food Service Directors in the area to make access to farmers and their crops more readily available to students.”
The extra labor is required for food preparation. Government provided commodities are quicker to prepare because they are often highly processed. Fresh, local carrots lack size uniformity, which means that staff must spend time sorting and slicing. However, the Food Service Department, which is required to be financially responsible, has not raised prices since 2007 and has thus far managed to remain profitable despite these challenges.
The staff has also evolved with the new standards of quality. Many attended “Healthy Cuisine for Kids” a hands-on training program for food service staff that focuses on culinary techniques that support the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Attendees have returned with exciting new recipes to make the menu options more interesting. Cafeteria personnel also serve a day-to-day educational function by encouraging students to select whole meals and make healthy selections.
The food services staff has also been trained to recognize and manage allergens. See Mr. Parker's 11/14/11 message about how WHS manages food allergens. Parents can log onto the mySchoolBucks website and make their lunch payments, see menus and review their children’s purchases with nutrition data. High School Manager Wendy Howard updates ingredient lists daily at the serving lines.
We believe that our food program provides nutritious choices that exceed governmental guidelines. We hope your students have enjoyed the improved quality and expanded options. As Mrs. Sousa noted, “Weston students are the reason we take pride in what we do.”
Visit the cafeteria some day soon!