Like many others around my age, I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I use it to shop, network, and read the news. I get a lot of my information from Facebook, with proper fact checking of course.
When I first began researching for a school nutrition topic to write about, I made a post on Facebook asking my teacher friends if they could answer some questions regarding the prices they pay and the portion sizes they receive.
Turns out, I know a lot more teachers than I thought. But it’s the answers that took me on a different path than I expected. The way that many of these teachers responded to me, indicated they didn’t quite understand how their school nutrition department really worked.
It’s probably fair to say that many of them aren’t going through the lunch lines often enough to learn on their own, but isn’t this information they should know?
What Teacher’s May Not Know or Understand
Their schools actually get reimbursed from the state for the meals that they serve thanks to the National School Lunch Program
Meals are only considered reimbursable if they contain all the required components set by the USDA
Schools get even more money back when their meals are fully compliant with meal pattern and nutrition standard requirements and/or if 60% of the students qualify for free or reduced meals.
Teachers are asked to pay more than students do in order to cover the overall cost of the lunch. The school nutrition department receives reimbursement only for meals served to children.
Schools with a Title I classification does not mean that all of the students enrolled receive free meals. This is because Title I is not specifically tied to the school food program.
This sounds so silly to anyone in our industry, but think about how beneficial it would be if teachers knew more about what goes on in the cafeteria.
Why Teachers Need to Be in the Loop
Teachers get the most facetime with parents! When it’s time for parents to fill out free/reduced meal applications, teachers can be the ones to explain to parents why it’s beneficial and be able to answer any questions they may have. Additionally, you can always be sure that teachers are always on your side. Lunch ladies won’t be questioned nearly as often about why teachers are having to pay more for meals than the full paying students.
One teacher asked me about the portion sizes for the student’s themselves! I gave her some brief insight into the National School Lunch Program, and she responded with, “Yeah, I figured it was some sort of regulation.” Some sort?!
In a day and age where we are constantly trying to find ways to increase participation in our school cafeterias, what better way than word of mouth and through the teachers themselves? Not only can they encourage students to go through the lines, but educate those students on the importance of nutrition and a well balanced diet.