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School board considers new options for school lunches

Although no action was taken, the members of the Osakis School Board, along with Food Service Director and Head Cook, Judy Thornbloom, discussed the school district's lunch program at the board's August 14 meeting.

The board gave Thornbloom the go ahead to look at options other than going through the state's food service program.

Currently, the district is reimbursed by the state for being certified through the state. The lunch menu was recently approved, which means that the district will receive a 6-cent reimbursement per child.

Because the lunch program is regulated by the state, there are rules and restrictions about Thornbloom can and can't serve.

As for fruits and vegetables, the students can have as many as they want and the district encourages the kids to do so. Protein, Thornbloom said, is limited to two ounces per child.

In figuring out the lunch menus, one requirement that Thornbloom said is sometimes a challenge is the amount of salt/sodium that is allowed. She said the state has really cracked down on its guideline requirements for the amount of sodium, along with how many calories and fat can be served to the students each day.

For example, according to a handout provided to the school board members, the minimum number of calories for students in kindergarten through fifth grade is 550 with a maximum number at 650 calories. For grades sixth through eighth, it is 600 to 700 calories and ninth grade through twelfth grade it is 750 to 850 calories. That daily amount is based on an average five-day week.

"It's not enough," said Thornbloom. "I know our kids are still hungry."

Board member Becky Hensley, who had concerns over how little food the students receive, especially for those who are in sports, said, "We've got to start filling these kids up."

If the district doesn't follow the guidelines set by the state, they would be dropped from the food program. A question was raised, then, about the school just going ahead and making the food themselves. It would depend on the cost and if there was a major difference.

Thornbloom noted that the price for lunch, which did not see an increase this year, is below what the state guidelines are.

Thornbloom will be looking at other options and then will bring that information back to the board at a later date.

In other school board action, the board approved the following items:

• Hiring Dylan Kohorst as the ninth grade football coach.

• Hiring Tim Schoeck as full-time custodian.

• The resignation of Brenda Gliniany as assistant cook.

• The resignation of Sarah Maddock as summer recreation director.

• Hiring Emily Wolf as the One-Act Play director.

• The Elementary and Secondary Handbooks.

• The long-term facilities maintenance 10-year plan.

• Milk and fuel bids.

• The Lakes Country Service Cooperative agreement.

• Set the date for a second September board meeting to set the tentative levy. The meeting was set for Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

• Set the date for the Truth in Taxation meeting. That date will be Monday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. She enjoys running and has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon distances.

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