Some Heartland schools ditching National Lunch Program - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Some Heartland schools ditching National Lunch Program

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

In the cafeteria at Trinity Lutheran School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri they're serving up meals that don't meet National Lunch Program standards, but the school doesn't care.

It left the program and is handling its own menus.

Head Cook Elizabeth Buerck said that a team of parents, cooks and staff spent months crunching the numbers and figured they could afford to leave the government program.

“We said that if we can do all our shopping at Sam's, just to keep it simple at first, then we would do it,” she remarked.

Elizabeth and her staff created 30 different menus that cover the range from soup to grilled cheese sandwiches to Little Caesar's Pizza on Fridays.

It's working for them. Their lunch numbers have about doubled.

“We just saw so much food being thrown away, “ remembered Principal Missy Adams. “We knew we could do it better.”

The kids are offered choices now, which the school insists makes a difference.

“If a child gets to choose what fruit he or she is eating, they feel like they're in control and will eat it. Our students are eating more fruit because they get what they like,” said Elizabeth.

Dessert is even back on the menu at Trinity.

Same thing at Notre Dame Regional High School. They ditched the federal program too.

Cooks grew weary of preparing food, only to watch the students pitch it minutes later.

Notre Dame dropped out of the program, created its own menus and got area restaurants involved.

On Tuesdays, Papa John's Pizza or Chick-Fil-A is served. Thursdays alternate between McAllister's, Tractor's, My Daddy's Cheesecake and Popeye's.

The kids love the choices.

The lunch bill can be a bit higher, but Notre Dame points out that kids do not have to eat the restaurant food. There is always the regular school lunch, plus a salad bar, and an a la carte menu that includes, among other things, yogurt, juices, and fruits.

“They used to walk through the line and go, 'Ewwww. What is that?'” said head cook Joan Dunning.

Now, like at Trinity, kids take what they want. Cooks no longer have to fill every slot on a tray with food that kids know they're not going to eat.

“It's worked for us. I didn't have to lay anyone off. We get to serve dessert again and our numbers are up,” reported Dunning.

Not every parent loves the less than healthy choices or the cost, but Dunning points out that there are always other options for the students to choose from.

When Notre Dame was in the National Lunch Program, they would fill three huge garbage cans full of food every day. Now, at the end of lunch, only half of one can is full.

Other schools, like St. Vincent de Paul in Cape Girardeau, have opted to stay in the program, but have hired food service companies to run their kitchens.

OPAA offers kids three entree choices a day, salad, salad bar and fresh fruit.

Desserts aren't really back at SVS, but the number of kids eating lunch at school has gone up 20 percent since OPAA took over.

“The kids like the meals. They like that they can choose what they want and we're not seeing nearly as much waste,” said Principal Kay Glastetter.

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly