JAMESTOWN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Lawn Avenue School
December 14, 2006
Present: Catherine Kaiser, Chairperson
Present: Dr. Robert Power, Superintendent
Maria Alfred, Business Manager
Lewis Kitts, Director of Buildings and Grounds
Call to Order: Ms. Kaiser called the work session to order at 7:04 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ms. Kaiser called the Roll Call.
Members present: Kaiser, Held, Kallfelz.
Members absent: Filkins, Brennan.
Public Forum: None
Food Services Discussion: Ms. Kaiser opened discussion by sharing the goals for Jamestown’s healthy lunch and breakfast program. Goals included 1) meeting high nutritional standards in the foods offered or sold at school; 2) offering only healthy choices in food; 3) purchasing/serving Rhode Island locally-grown products if possible; 4) developing/maintaining the cafeteria as a nutrition education learning environment 5) providing healthy food options at reasonable cost for students and staff; and 6) saving the district in management fees whenever possible. Ms. Kaiser added that Jamestown met with Dorothy Fraley of Kids First. Jamestown is in a position to act as a testing site for a statewide program and a testing ground for stricter nutritional criteria.. She noted that the criteria for Jamestown’s goals came from the draft of a document from the DOE. Ms. Kaiser asked for questions from vendors.
Mike Reyo of SODEXO opened with a number of questions. 1) Are meal counts doubled on Fridays because pizza is served? Ms. Kaiser said yes. 2) Were students in higher grades asked about foods? Mrs. Kallfelz explained that, for elementary students, they will choose familiar and palatable items among what you give them. She did not think the students should drive the food program. 3) How will you evaluate the success of food program if your count decreases? Ms. Kaiser said that success is measured by looking at the nutritional goals met with food choices. 4) Mr. Reyo said that in the best case scenario, participation will rise; however, sometimes sales drop and students bring Twinkies from home. Ms. Kaiser said Jamestown saw this as an educational process for students and homes. She thought there would be parental support. 5) Is there a banned food list? Ms. Kaiser said not initially. Mrs. Kallfelz said students were pretty well prepared for food changes. Ms. Held added that many parents would feel more comfortable if snack foods were decreased. Dr. Power noted that when he eats lunch with the students, they have pretty good lunches from home. 6) What do you mean by “...offering only healthy choices”? Ms. Kaiser explained that lunch choices would meet the food service criteria. Mr. Reyo explained that a lot of high protein foods are received free from the USDA, and things like chicken nuggets might not meet Jamestown’s criteria. This would mean having to turn down free USDA proteins and to purchase them.
7) What do you mean by “locally grown” products? Ms. Kaiser explained that this goal was to encourage vendors to find Rhode Island products if they were readily available and of comparable price. Mr. Reyo explained that this could be an insurance issue concerning food safely. Ms. Kaiser added that Jamestown wants vendors to investigate using locally grown and Farm-to-School products from Rhode Island. Ms. Fraley added that sometimes locally produced products are safer; Rhode Island farmers are practicing in safer ways than larger farms. Mr. Reyo added that SODEXO serves a lot of school districts in Rhode Island, and he said he was concerned about the capacity of the farms. 8) Mr. Reyo asked whether the educational environment of the cafeteria was to be developed by the vendor or the school. Rennie Sullivan explained that nutrition is done in the health education program and starts in Kindergarten. She explained the food program in Kindergarten and said that the Wellness Committee is working on healthy celebrations. Mr. Reyo asked how this would be integrated with a company. Ms. Held said Jamestown is open to suggestions. Mrs. Kallfelz added that Kids First comes to the school to provide education. She suggested that a healthy learning environment include posters and presentations to promote healthy foods. 9) What about bake sales and vending machines? Ms. Sullivan said that school policy only supports PTO programs, not scouts or bakes sales during school time; there are no vending machines.
10) Mr. Reyo asked about saving district management fees. Ms. Kaiser explained that there has been ongoing talk about collaboration among districts, and Jamestown would want the vendor to be open to this. Mr. Reyo explained that management fees are usually 3% of the profit. Ms. Kaiser explained that Jamestown is looking to create economies of scale through collaboration, whenever possible, and this was a philosophical issue. Dr. Power added that if the management fee of one vendor is 3% and another is 2%, Jamestown would have to look at the programs. 11) Will decisions be made on the most advantageous and lowest bid? Ms. Kaiser said yes. Ms. Fraley added that Jamestown would use the standard RFP for Rhode Island. Mrs. Kallfelz asked where SODEXO and Arrowmark provide foods. Mr. Reyo explained that both have divisions that are geared to food in schools in Rhode Island. Ann Marie Marshall from Ocean Side Catering in Newport asked whether Jamestown was looking at other levels for service. Ms. Kaiser said yes. Jamestown is looking for a proposal from vendors versus putting out specifications. Mr. Reyo asked about hot or cold food. Ms. Held thought variety was good, and Ms. Kaiser said Jamestown is looking to move forward in a healthier way, so whatever is proposed is fine.
Mr. Kitts distributed a list of specifications for the kitchens and explained the setup in general. Betty Prairie explained that North Kingstown handles food now and does all of the cooking in the cafeteria. Ms. Prairie commented that North Kingstown has met all food demands of the previous Superintendent and said she was surprised that this was considered unhealthy. Ms. Kaiser apologized and explained that Jamestown does not think that North Kingstown serves unhealthy food, but the relative standard based on USDA criteria does not meet Jamestown’s standards. Ms. Prairie added that the district can have anything it wants, but it has to pay for it. Ms. Kaiser noted that this is why the school is putting out an RFP. She added that lunch costs $2.00 in elementary school $3.00 in middle school.
Ms. Prairie explained that there is no a la carte in the elementary school, and there are very limited snacks at the middle school. She said that North Kingstown made many improvements, and costs are affected by choices. Ms. Held noted that as awareness raises and costs increase, districts may want to take a look at different vendors. Ms. Prairie added that districts get penalized by not accepting federal commodities. She thought change had to come at the federal level. She explained that, if students eat three meals per day, the school feeds them only 16% of the total of 1,090 meals, and 84% of the problem is at home. Ms. Kaiser explained that the school wants to model good eating practice. Mrs. Kallfelz said that if 16% of meals is what the district can control, then it should do so responsibly. Ms. Marshall commended the School Committee for its efforts. Mrs. Kallfelz added that she has heard of many school districts that are trying to make changes; initially, use of food services goes down, and then it raises and becomes more profitable over the long term.
Mr. Kitts took groups of vendors to tour the schools’ kitchens.
Adjourned: Mrs. Kallfelz moved and Ms. Held seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 7:50 p.m. So moved.
THE AFOREMENTIONED MINUTES ARE HEREBY APPROVED:
Chairperson, Jamestown School Committee Date