NEW SCHOOL MEAL REQUIREMENTS
(Beginning with the 2012-13 School Year).
You may have heard that there will be new requirements for school meals. Most of these new rules will begin for school year 2012-2013.( Breakfast and other lunch changes will take place in future years). Knowing what changes were likely to take place, the Ambridge School District Food Service Department has already been gradually making many of these changes so it wouldn’t be such an adjustment to the students when they were finally required.
• Students will now be required to have 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables on their tray for it to count as a full meal. Anything less than a full meal is charged at a la carte prices, which will cost more than a complete meal. We will be offering a larger variety of fruits and vegetables daily to give the students more to select from.
• Menus will be written for three different age groups; K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Before, we only had two age groups which left some of the younger students with way too much food. You’ll see that on the menus, many of our items are the same, but portion sizes and recipes will be designed to meet the specific age groups.
• We are now limited as to how much meat/meat alternate (cheese, yogurt, etc.) and grains we can offer.
Previously, we only had a minimum to meet, but could offer more. Now we have to stay within the specified ranges for each age group. This means main entrees may not be as large as they have been. Remember, though, that there are more fruits and vegetables available than there have been. We’ll have to be a little creative to make this work, but have no doubt we can make each meal something our students will enjoy.
• Half of all grains offered must be whole grain rich and meet weekly ranges. Almost all of our grains offered already meet this requirement—the most noticeable change will be in pizza (crust).
• We must offer vegetables from the following groups each week: dark green, orange/red, and legumes. We then have the option to include starchy and other vegetables. We’ve been working toward this goal by serving fresh veggie with low-fat ranch dressing, fresh, steamed broccoli, switching half of our lettuce to romaine and fresh spinach and offering a variety of other vegetables during the week.
• Schools have until 2014-2015 to meet the first level of sodium limits. While this might be quite a challenge, we are working toward these goals now by not adding any salt while cooking. We expect as manufacturers reformulate some of their products to bring down sodium levels that it will not be a problem to meet this requirement at all. We’ve been able to accomplish this by using only fresh and frozen vegetables, as canned usually contain more sodium.
Breakfast meal pattern changes will go into effect upon the start of the 2013-14 school year. So, for now, we will be concentrating on our lunch meal pattern changes.
NEW Lunch Meal Requirements: For lunch choose at least 3 of the 5 items from the following: Meat or Meat Alternate 2 ounces, 1/2 cup or more of Vegetables (includes starchy vegetables), Bread or grains 2 servings, 1/2 cup fruit and 8 ounces of low fat or skim milk. Beginning with the 2012-13 school year all student meals must contain a fruit or a vegetable to qualify as a reimbursable meal.
• Encourage your children to try new things at home and school and discuss healthy meal choices!
Free and Reduced Price School Meals Applications need to be submitted and signed each school year, beginning in August of that school year. [The exception to this is if you receive a letter directly before the beginning of each new school year stating that your child is already eligible for Free or Reduced Meals based on the National School Lunch Program's Direct Certification List].
How Do I Apply For Free Or Reduced Meals For My Child?
There are several methods for applying for National School Lunch Program Free and Reduced Meals:
1. Use the COMPASS [Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Access to Social Services] website to submit an application online: www.compass.state.pa.us
2. Download the paper application from the Ambridge Area School District website and submit it to the Food Service Director at the Sr. High School 909 Duss Avenue, Ambridge, PA 15003.
14-15 Free Reduced Application
3. Students are also given applications the first week of school that can be returned to school with the student.
4. Applications are also available in each school's main office beginning in August preceding the upcoming school year.
What If My Child Received Free Or Reduced Lunch Last School Year?
A new application must be submitted again for the current school year beginning in August. Students that received either Free or Reduced Meals in the previous school year will have the first 30 days of school as a 'grace period' to return a new application. [Again, the only exception to completing and submitting an application each school year is if you receive a letter directly stating that your child is on the National School Lunch Program Direct Certification List.]
What Information Do I Need To Have Available In Order To Apply For Free And Reduced Price Meals?
The information that you need to have available in order to successfully complete the Free and Reduced Price Meal Application includes: students' first & last names, grades & school buildings, income of all household members, how much and how often it is received, your Social Security Number if you are the adult signing the application, your current physical address as well as a valid telephone number, your TANF case number if you qualify for TANF(Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or Food Stamps - [this number is NOT found on your Access Card - but only on communications from your case worker - it is a 9-digit number that begins with '04' as the Beaver County Code.]
Will The Information I Submit Be Checked?
Yes, we may ask you to send written proof. In addition, each school year we are required to follow a 'Verification Process' in which applications must be selected and verified for auditing purposes. This process pulls randomly from applications that are submitted. If your application is selected in the Verification process and you do not reply, your children will no longer be eligible for Free or Reduced Meals. Even if you re-apply again later in the school year, you must still complete the Verification process.
What If I Don't Qualify Now, Can I Apply Later?
Yes. You may apply at any time during the school year if your household size goes up, income goes down, or if you start getting Food Stamps, TANF or other benefits. Should you lose your job, your children may be able to get free or reduced price meals.
Are Foster Children Eligible For Free Meals?
Many foster children can get free meals regardless of your income. Each foster child in your household must have a separate application completed with their personal use monthly income, if any. Please follow instructions for applying or call 724-266-2833 ext. 2395 for assistance.
How Can I Help My Child Get Free or Reduced Meals Faster?
Each year, hundreds of Free/Reduced Meal Applications come in for the Food Service Director to process during the first month of the school year. You can help your children to get enrolled by writing legibly on the form if submitting a paper form, and including all the information necessary such as; Social Security Number (required), address, phone, etc. This form does not remain in your child's school building, so it is not safe to assume that we have access to address, phone or name changes. If you choose to use the online program through COMPASS, please be sure to pay attention to the instructions, take your time and double check before submitting. By taking these extra precautions, you will reduce the possibility that your application be returned or denied due to missing information.
What If I Have Further Questions Or Need Help?
Janet Gaffney, Food Services Director: 724-266-2833 ext. 2395
AMBRIDGE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT
STUDENT WELLNESS POLICY ADOPTED: 08/30/2006
Ambridge Area School District recognizes that student wellness and proper nutrition are related to our students’ physical health, well-being, growth, development, and readiness to learn. The School Board of Directors is committed to providing a school environment that promotes student wellness, proper nutrition, nutrition education, and regular physical activity as part of the total learning experience. In a healthy school environment, students will learn about and participate in positive dietary and lifestyle practices that can improve student achievement.
To ensure the health and well-being of all students, the Board establishes that the district shall provide to students:
· A comprehensive nutrition program consistent with federal and state requirements.
· Access at reasonable cost to food and beverages that meet established nutritional guidelines.
· Physical Education courses and opportunities for developmentally appropriate physical activity during the school day.
· Curriculum and programs for grades K-12 designed for educating students about proper nutrition and lifelong physical activity, in accordance with State Board of Education curriculum regulations and academic standards.
3. DELEGATION OF RESPONSIBILITY
The Superintendent or Food Service Director shall be responsible to monitor district schools, programs, and curriculum to ensure compliance with the policy, related policies, and established guidelines or administrative regulations. Each building Principal or designee shall report to the Superintendent or Food Service Director regarding compliance in each respective school. Staff members responsible for programs related to student wellness shall report to the Superintendent regarding the status of such programs.
The district shall appoint a Wellness Committee consisting of members of the administrative staff, physical education/health education teachers, school nurse, student council representatives, parent representatives, Food Service Director, and one member of the food service industry.
5. NUTRITION/HEALTH EDUCATION
· The goal of Ambridge Area School District is to teach measures which support a healthy lifestyle by students, which will promote student readiness and enhance achievement toward student performance.
· All students will be required to take and pass at least four (4) health education courses between grades K-12 in Health Education and/or Family and Consumer Sciences.
· All Health education courses are taught using the curriculum that is consistent with Pennsylvania and National Standards.
· Health education courses teach objectives for students on adopting a healthy lifestyle and emphasizing nutrition and physical activity.
· Health education faculty is certified in their field and participates in ongoing professional development and continuing education in the health/nutrition/wellness discipline.
· Health education messages will be emphasized throughout Ambridge Area School District by way of course content, guest speakers, menu messages, nutrient labeling of menus and educational décor in classrooms.
· Health education messages shall extend into the community via the district newsletter, and support of parent-teacher organizations.
6. NUTRITION SERVICES/FOOD SERVICES
· All foods made available through the district operate under the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program guidelines and are served in accordance with federal nutrition standards under the School Meals Initiative and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A primary focus will implement measures to combat the issue of childhood obesity and promote, in awareness and practice, a healthier eating lifestyle.
· Meals will meet the nutritional criteria for calories, fat, low-fat dairy foods, whole-grain baked (bread) products, a variety of at least 3 fruits and/or vegetables daily, as per the current Nutritional Guidelines from Pennsylvania Department of Education Division of Food and Nutrition.
· Ala carte foods sold within the district’s food service department will be packaged in single serving sizes, not list sugar as the first ingredient, provide minimal or no trans fat, and include a variety of items that provide 2+ grams of fiber per serving. Caloric content will not exceed 200 calories per serving for all foods except entrees. To be updated upon receipt of final rule regarding competitive foods.
· NO FRIED FOODS WILL BE OFFERED.
· Beverages sold within the food service department will include allowable milk selections at minimum of two (2) fat-free flavors, and white 1%. Whole milk will not be offered. Milk will be packaged in 8 ounce containers. Bottled water and 100% juice will be sold/offered as part of the menued lunch and ala carte sales.
· Junior and Senior High cafeterias will offer a variety of beverages that meet the current nutritional criteria. Beverage offerings will be in compliance with the forthcoming newly adopted competitive foods rule.
· Foods of minimal nutritional value will not be sold anytime during the day within the food service department.
Refer to USDA regulation 7 CFR 210 and 220.
· The district will ensure that beverages sold through vending machines will reflect current competitive food rules.
· Vending machines containing carbonated soft drinks will not be turned on during the normal school day.
· Vending machines will not be available in schools grades K-6.
· Healthier meal options and menued suggestions will be marketed on menus, the food service newsletters, and on the district’s website. Signage and nutritional information will be posted on menus and in serving areas to encourage students to choose healthier eating and promote nutrient awareness.
· All food service employees will be in-serviced on the implementation of the process of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.
· The Food Service Director and appropriate staff will arrange to meet with Junior and Senior High student council no less than once every three (3) months to review menus, hold taste tests, and gather student feedback via surveys, interviews.
· The Food Service Director will communicate with parents on a regular basis on menus, wellness, and departmental offerings. This communication will take place via the district newsletters and via online email accessibility and the district website.
· Food Service Department, working in cooperation with food vendors, and the district, will sponsor events such as health and wellness food fairs as often as possible.
· Food Service Department will continue to sponsor a nutrition awareness classroom lesson to all first graders, annually. The program is in conjunction with school instructional staff and the district’s dairy provider, who currently provides a nutrition education specialist to educate the children on healthy food and dairy choices.
7. SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE ENVIRONMENT
· Vendors will work with food service staff in providing complete nutritional content of all foods offered within the school food service department.
· Additionally, all foods menued will be analyzed for nutrition content to meet current US dietary guidelines. Nutritional software will be implemented to accomplish this task. Recipes will be standardized and analyzed for nutrient data as well.
· Ample substitutions will be made for gluten free students, as well as students with food allergies.
· School meals will be served in clean, safe pleasant surroundings. Adequate space and time will be provided to ensure a positive meal experience. The National Association of School Boards recommends the promotion of a relaxed dining experience including 10 minutes after sitting down for breakfast and 20 minutes after sitting down for lunch.
· All food service staff will have ongoing opportunity to participate in continuing nutrition education and staff development via attendance in workshops, district in-service days, and department food service meetings. Head Cooks will participate at least annually in workshops or seminars related to food and nutrition services. At least four (4) food service members per year will become trained in the Serv-Safe Program.
· Food service staff shall take all measures to ensure that student access to foods and beverages meet federal, state, and local guidelines, as well as sanitation regulations.
· The food service department cooking, storage, and serving areas shall be limited to “Authorized Personnel Only” in an effort toward maintaining kitchen sanitation and infection control.
· Food Service Director, working with active and/or parent members of the Wellness Committee, will take measures to promote awareness among parents and teachers to emphasize the offering of healthier food alternatives for classroom parties and fundraisers.
· Nutritional facts and advice, i.e. carbohydrate counts, gluten free offerings, and similar circumstances.
· In an effort to reduce competition with the district’s school lunch program, the Ambridge Area School District will remain a “closed-campus”, i.e., students will not be permitted to leave school grounds during the school day for alternative food or beverage purposes.
· The Food Service Director shall provide appropriate training to all food service staff on the specific area components of the Student Wellness Policy.
8. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
· Ambridge Area School District will provide opportunities for developmentally appropriate physical activity during the school day for all students.
· District schools and instructors provide students the opportunity to exercise through physical activity daily on most days of the week, in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
· A variety of age-appropriate physical activities, in addition to physical education class, shall be provided in the form of recess and after school extra-curricular clubs and groups.
· Physical fitness tests and/or challenges will be offered annually to students in grades 7-12.
· A physical and social environment will be offered and maintained that encourages safe and enjoyable activity for all students.
· After school programs shall provide developmentally appropriate physical activity for participating children. The district has already partnered with the YMCA for after school activities in elementary levels.
· District schools shall partner with parents/guardians and community members to institute programs that support physical activity.
· Parents and staff will be encouraged to participate in such activities.
· The district will continue to provide students and community with acceptable physical activity facilities after school hours.
9. PHYSICAL EDUCATION
· The district will offer a quality physical education instruction that promotes lifelong physical activity in accordance with the US dietary guidelines.
· Physical education classes shall be the means through which all students learn, practice, and are assessed on the development of appropriate skills and knowledge necessary for lifelong health and physical activity.
· A comprehensive physical education course of study that focuses on providing students the skills, knowledge, and confidence to participate in a healthy, active lifestyle shall be implemented.
· A sequential physical education program consistent with State Board of Education curriculum regulations and Health, Safety and Physical Education Academic Standards shall be developed and implemented.
· Adequate amounts of planned instruction shall be provided in order for students to achieve the proficient level for the Health, Safety and Physical Education Academic Standards.
· Students shall be moderately to vigorously active for the major portion of a given physical education class. Documented medical conditions and disabilities shall be accommodated each class.
· Safe and adequate equipment, facilities and resources shall be provided.
· Physical education shall be taught by certified instructors who shall participate in ongoing continuing education to maintain a level current expertise in the discipline.
· Physical education classes shall have a teacher to student ratio comparable to those of other courses.
10. OTHER ACTIVITIES INVOLVING FOOD, NUTRITION, AND WELLNESS
· Parent Partnerships:
Parents shall be provided information to help them incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their children’s daily lives. The information will be provided in the form of student handouts, the school district website, articles in school district community or food service newsletters, presentations during PTA/PTO meetings that focus on healthy eating, exercise, and/or wellness, and any other appropriate means for reaching parents.
Parents shall be educated to partner with school staff in order to provide a healthy diet and appropriate level of physical activity during both school hours and in their respective homes.
The Wellness Committee will distribute a list of suggestions for non-food fundraising efforts to all PTA/PTO groups and other student groups that participate in fundraising. While the Wellness Committee cannot prohibit the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value, it can and will encourage the use of many alternative methods for raising funds. SEE APPENDIX C
The Wellness Committee and subsequent Policy will request that the cooperation of PTA/PTO groups and other groups that any fundraising items of minimal nutritional value WILL NOT be offered nor eaten during the school day. This is in order to assure that they are not in direct competition with the National School Lunch Program.
· Classroom Parties:
ALL TEACHERS AND PARENTS OF ELEMNTARY STUDENTS WILL BE GIVEN A LIST OF SUGGESTIONS FOR HEALTHIER ALTERNATIVES FOR FOOD BROUGHT IN FOR CLASSROOM PARTY CELEBRATIONS. SEE APPENDIX B
Parents will be encouraged to offer variety in their choice of party food. The Wellness Committee will encourage that parents cooperate with the teachers in order to avoid duplication of excessive sweets being brought in from home. Example: offer fresh fruit, one sweet, one non-sweetened beverage, etc. instead of cupcake, cookie, chips, pop…
Food brought in for classroom parties shall not be offered before those particular students have eaten lunch so as to avoid negatively affecting the students’ appetite.
Each building Principal will have final decision as to frequency of party celebrations and food offered.