Food Service Program
 
 

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Frequently Asked Questions
 

 
Operations

 1)  Who is responsible for the operations of the Lexington Public School Food Service Program?

The School Committee sets policy and awards a Food Service Management Company (FSMC) contract.  Lexington chose to use a Food Service Management company to provide food service operations over 25 years ago.  The other options for the School Committee in providing food service is to hire town employees and a director, or to hire employees and a management company to oversee town employees.  The Food Service Management Company model provides the most cost efficient method for the School Committee to provide nutritious meals to students.

Implementation of the policy and guidelines and supervision of the Food Service Management Company falls under the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Business Operations. Every five years the district issues a Request for Proposals to competitively procure food service management operations and management.  a copy of the last RFP is available at Comm-Pass.com, Document Number: 12-04.

The School Committee and the Lexington community have a long history of supporting  healthy schools and various state and USDA initiatives.

Contact:  Mary Ellen Dunn, Asst. Superintendent for Finance and Business @ 781-861-2563 x206

 2)  Who is the Food Service Management Company selected for this school year and who have we had in the past?

 Whitsons Culinary Group - July 1, 2012 - June 2017 

 Kevin Silvia or John Fraitello @ 781-861-2320 Ext 69107 or 69109

 Chartwells School Dining - July 1, 1997(est.) - June 2012

 Sodexo/Marriott  (Marriott bought Sodexo in mid 1990s)

 Sodexo (First Food Service Management Company, hired between late 1980s and early 1990s)

 3)  How is the Food Service Management Company selected?

The Food Service Management Company is selected using a Request for Proposal under the rules and regulations of Chapter 30(b), Massachusetts procurement law.  A four member committee reviews the requirements of the RFP and the submissions by potential providers and makes a recommendation to the School Committee for selection.  The review committee consists of The Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Operations, Nurse Leader, K-12 PE/Wellness Coordinator, and Parent representative(s) who posses a registered dietitian status or other similar credentials.

 4)  Who controls the menu options of the program?

The menu options are dictated by three entities. 

USDA under the School Lunch program and most recently the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act 2010.  

A la Carte is controlled by Massachusetts Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools. Also known as 105 CMR: Department of Public Health, CMR 225.000: Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools.             

Massachusetts Competitive Foods and Beverages "At a Glance" Chart               

Lexington Public School Committee establishes district nutrition guidelines which are contained within the  WELLNESS POLICY (Approved July 17, 2012) and the  WELLNESS POLICY: IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES (Approved July 17, 2012). 

 5)  Who controls the finances of the program?

Under USDA regulations, all finances are under the control and property of the Town of Lexington-Lexington Public Schools.  The Food Service Management Company deposits all funds into a town controlled bank account and requests reimbursement through the school department.  This process is overseen by the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Business Operations in the school department with support from the Town Treasurer and Town Accountant.

 Menu/Portions

 1) Does the School district have a nutrition policy for school meals and A la Carte items sold?

Yes, the School District follows both a Wellness Policy and Nutritional Guidelines for our food service program. The School District's nutrition guidelines are contained within the  WELLNESS POLICY (Approved July 17, 2012) and the  WELLNESS POLICY: IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES (Approved July 17, 2012).

The School District includes nutrition guidelines in the Request for Proposals when contracting a management company to operate our program. The language is stated as follows:

"The FSMC shall serve reimbursable meals that comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the nutrient standards established by USDA in Federal regulations for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program and the school districts Nutrition Guidelines."

 2)  What are the portions sizes for different grade levels?

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act mandates smaller portion sizes of protein and carbohydrates, and encourages larger servings of fruits and vegetables. Starting in the 2012-13 school year, school lunches have:

Age-appropriate calorie limits

Larger servings of vegetables and fruits

Increased vegetable protein offerings, such as beans

Smaller servings of proteins and carbohydrates

Many of the parents in the community have already made these same changes in the foods they serve at home. However, some children may take time to adjust to the increase in fruit and vegetable offerings and the decrease in protein and carbohydrate portion sizes.

For additional details on the HHFKA, click here to visit the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website at http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Governance/Legislation/CNR_2010.htm

 3)  Who decides the number of  daily menu choices at the elementary schools?

There are four menu choices available for the elementary school children. Principals are involved with the decision around the number of items on the menu plan. The current number of offerings is based upon the idea that although children need choices, four choices are enough and still allow variety.

 4)  My student athlete at the high school needs larger portions in the school lunch.  What choices does he or she have for a healthy snack after school from the vending machines?

We offer baked chips, Popchips, Smartfoods Selects, Kashi Bars, Smartfood popcorn, meal bars and assorted brands of flavored water and plain water.  

A resource we used to select and make nutritionally vetted selections is the JSI A-List from the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI)

5) Do we use Non-GMO food for school lunch?

The use of genetically modified food (GMOs) is found in many commonly used products, including soybeans, corn, rapeseed/canola, sugar beets, rice, cotton, dairy (in feed grain) and produce. These foods are in many of the products consumers purchase from the grocery store, restaurants, and also in school dining programs, including raw ingredients and packaged products. The U.S. government does not require manufacturers and suppliers of these products to disclose the use of GMO foods on their labels. Therefore, the only way to avoid these products is to purchase exclusively 100% Organic products, or those that expressly state on their packaging that they are GMO-free (The USDA organic seal only requires a product to be comprised of 95% organic ingredients; it must state 100% organic to be fully free of GMOs). Unfortunately, school dining programs do not typically support the organic purchasing model, unless the parents in a community overwhelmingly agree to bear the significant cost increase to the school breakfast and lunch meal prices that would be required to accommodate the added cost of purchasing 100% Organic products. Another challenge is the availability of 100% Organic ingredients in the quantities required for school lunch production. Many products are not available at all, or are only available at 95% organic or below.

Our Food Service Management Company (FSMC) monitors various food labeling initiatives as they arise in the United States. Currently, 61 countries around the world require GMO labeling.  As providers of school lunch, and parents ourselves, we support the “Right to Know” whether our foods contain GMOs.

 A la Carte v. Meal?

 1.  How can my student tell which items are included in the standard school lunch and which items are a la carte?

At all of the school levels, there are sample plates displayed in the lunch line.  Students can see examples of food categories from which they can fill their own plates.  For the middle schools and at the high school, there are posters explaining the food categories that are included in a standard lunch.  Students are encouraged to choose from each category.  A list of a la carte items is posted on coolers and counter tops.

 2.  At the high school, where can a student buy soups and salad?

In Commons II, there are two salad bars.  Homemade soups, made from scratch with hormone-free and antibiotic-free ingredients, are also served daily in Commons II.  Right beside the soup, a half sandwich wrap is available on a “grab-and-go” basis.  Students can choose milk, fruit, and vegetables to go along with this soup and sandwich meal, all included in the price of a standard meal ($3.25). Students may also choose the option of  a salad bar or made to order deli sandwich in which fruit, and milk are also included in the price of this meal (there is an charge of 3.75 for the salad bar and Boar’s Head deli). 

 Products

 1)  Why isn't sparkling water a beverage that's included in the meal? 

According to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the only beverage included in a meal is milk (fat-free and 1% white milk, or fat-free chocolate milk).  Water is not part of the federally reimbursable meal.

 2)  Can we bring back Au Bon Pain soups?

Au Bon Pain is a subsidiary of the same company that owns Chartwell's School Dining Services.  It was a brand available to us through that relationship.   Now, all foods served must comply with federal Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act nutrition regulations as well as with district guidelines. This includes soups.

Whitsons’ made from scratch soups allow us to better control quality and meet the new nutritional requirements more easily.

 3)  Are unhealthy foods such as Doritos and Pop-Tarts sold at lunch?

No, these items should not be for sale on the lunch line or in LHS vending machines accessible to students.  The district is striving to meet the following standards cited in the  WELLNESS POLICY: IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES (see pages 3 & 4) for all a la carte items sold.  The Food Service Management Company uses the John Stalker Institute A-List as a reference guide for new products that meet nutritional standards.  In addition, Lexington conducts review procedures of our own before a product is purchased and sold on the school lunch lines.  Occasionally, there is conflict between Lexington and the A-List, where items on the A-List are not compatible with the mission and vision of the Lexington Public Schools’ program.

 Point of Sale/PIN number

 1) Why does my child have to always use a PIN number even though s/he is using cash?

Students are required to use PIN numbers regardless of a cash or charge sale for the following reasons:

Due to district food safety and recall requirements, the Food Service Management Company needs to be able to identify which students purchased items that were sold on a certain day.

The system is capable of notifying the cashier of a student with allergies who may have chosen a potentially harmful food. This “red flag,” allows the cashier to stop that sale.

Due to occasional theft of food products from our cafeteria lines by students, the Point of Sale system (https://www.myschoolbucks.com/) tells us who we can exclude from our investigations with proof of purchase.

 2) Is there a way my child can charge their lunch or a-la-carte items instead of carrying cash?

Lexington Public Schools introduced an online payment system which provides parents a convenient, easy, and secure online prepayment service to deposit money into a child's lunch account at any time. This service gives parents the opportunity to easily view lunch account balances along with a thirty-day purchase history. If you have not set up an account, you will need your child's student ID number, which is available from

studentidnumber@sch.ci.lexington.ma.us. You will need to provide the child's name, grade, address, and home-room teacher name. The ID number will be mailed to you. It will not be sent via email.

 3) My child is being bullied and forced to give his PIN number to another student or buy other students' meals/snacks. How can I make this stop?

This problem has been going on for many, many decades and most of us either experienced it or knew about it as children as well. First, you need to communicate to your child that he or she should never share his or her PIN number with anyone. If your child is being bullied, he or she should report the incident and the student to a teacher or principal. The theft of lunch money and its investigation fall under the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline. You as a parent can report it to the principal and should also report the incident to Food Service. The principal is responsible for the disciplinary action of the offending student. Food Service can only change the PIN number. You are still responsible for the charges, unless a student makes restitution through school disciplinary actions taken by the principal of the school.

 4)  What is the School Committee Meal Charge Policy?

Click on the above link to access the School Committee Meal Charge Policy.

 5)  Where do I find Financial Assistance Information?

The School Committee provides for financial assistance to student who meet income requirements.  See our Financial Assistance webpage.  For Free and Reduced Lunch please see below.

 6) How do I access the USDA Free and Reduced Lunch Program?

In August, Free and Reduced Lunch Applications are mailed to all registered student households. In order to receive Free or Reduced Lunch meals, a Free and Reduced Lunch Application must be completed and returned to the Business Office. Parents should familiarize themselves with the School Committee Meal Charge Policy. Applications are available on the LPS web site.

The Lexington School Lunch program receives both federal and state reimbursement to meals to support the program.  The current reimbursement rates are available at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  These revenues are paid directly to the Town and deposited into the school lunch revolving fund for program use.

Important Information about Free and Reduced Lunch Status:

Students are required to use PIN numbers that are assigned by the Food Service Program to make payment for meals.

The published meal price is charged based on the status of the student on the date the meal is purchased. Please be aware that families who may qualify will have to pay full price until their application is approved. The effective date of the approved application establishes the status of the student. There is no retroactive credit applied to the account to remove any balance due unless it is directly tied to the approval date of the application. Please work with our Food Service staff if you would like more information about being able to put funds on account for your child. (781-861-2320 x1181) Free lunch status students will not be allowed to have a negative account balance.

Free lunch status allows a child to receive a free meal everyday. A la Carte items are not part of the USDA program. Cash or a Credit Balance with Food Service must be used to pay for A la Carte items. Reduced lunch status students will be allowed to have a negative account balance up to a maximum dollar equivalent of six (6) reduced priced meals, which will be known as the “account cap."

Reduced lunch status allows a child to receive reduced priced meals at $0.40. Cash or a Credit Balance with Food Service must be used to pay for A la Carte items. Please work with our Food Service staff if you would like more information about being able to put funds on account for your child. (781-861-2320 x 69107, 69109)

Bag Lunches can be made available for students who are attending field trips when requested. Sometimes, teachers make arrangements for bag lunches for the entire classroom. At other times, the parent will need to contact Food Service to make arrangements two weeks ahead of time (781-861-2320 x69107 or 69109). The field trip information packet from the school should indicate if lunches are being provided or not.

Still have questions? 

If so, please contact:   Kevin Silvia or John Fraitello @ 781-861-2320 Ext 69107 or 69109

 
Last Modified on October 2, 2014