As superintendent, I normally try to keep the public informed about the finances of the district, the changes in legislation affecting the district and building/facilities related projects. I want to take this opportunity to talk to you about nutrition, specifically, the nutritional program at the district.
Let me begin by stating that the Earlham Community School District has had and continues to have an outstanding food service program. The meals are wonderful and all of the food service staff takes great pride in providing a balanced nutritional meal for students each day. After having worked in several other school districts around the State, I can honestly say that no other food service program that I have been associated with offers as many nutritious choices for students on a daily basis.
Nearly all studies that I have read indicate a direct link between proper nutrition and academic achievement. We all know that it is more difficult to concentrate when you are hungry. It is especially important that all students start their morning with a nutritious breakfast. I was surprised to find out that, on average, only 30-35 of the over 650 students who attend school in this district eat breakfast at school.
I am sure that many students eat breakfast at home before they come to school and that is great! I am also certain that some students, especially middle school and high school students grab something from the Ala Carte shelf to eat before school starts. My hope is that all students have something to eat each morning prior to beginning their studies. The district wants to make sure that if a child doesn’t eat something at home, they know there are breakfast alternatives for them at school. Breakfast is served in the Multi-purpose room each morning beginning at 7:45 AM. The school lunch menu includes a breakfast menu and is available on the school website at http://www.earlham.k12.ia.us/.
Another statistic that surprises me relative to the school nutrition program for the district is the percentage of students/families who are receiving Free and/or Reduced lunch prices. This is surprising because the percentage is low in comparison to schools in our athletic conference and in the area. I want to make certain that all district patrons know that the information relative to Free and/or Reduced priced meals is posted on the school website, including the income eligibility guidelines from the Federal Government. All information within the school relative to Free and/or Reduced price meals is kept strictly confidential by law. I would encourage anyone who is eligible based upon the income guidelines to participate in this program. It is beneficial to you and to the district in many ways. For example, when the district applies for federal grants, one factor that is taken into consideration is the percentage of students who receive Free and/or Reduced prices meals. The higher the percentage, the more likely the district is to receive the grant.
Finally, I want to make sure that all parents realize that the food service program will provide a sack lunch for your child when they are going to be on a school sponsored field trip. In fact, the food service staff wants to provide these meals. It is important that the district maintain a high level of participation in both the breakfast and lunch programs to return the food service to a self-supporting entity. Recently, the district has experienced some financial challenges related to the food service account. With the increase in food prices and extra fuel charges for delivery, the revenues for this program are not covering all current expenditures. Please feel welcome to come to school and have lunch with your child anytime that works for you. If you have any questions, feel free to stop in and chat.