By Emily Bialkowski
The School District of Caledonia is accepting letters of interest for a vacant school board seat left by Scott Longhorn, who tendered his resignation at the Nov. 19 school board meeting effective Dec. 31.
The board entertained a good deal of discussion about the best way to post the position and make a selection. They possess the authority to appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy until the next election. With input from several individuals and the superintendent, the board decided to announce the position in The Caledonia Argus and on the school website. The deadline for interested individuals is Dec. 10, who will need to submit their intent in writing to the school district.
Caledonia Schools Food Service Director Rita McCormick gave a special presentation to address ongoing changes in nutrition guidelines and to highlight how her department has been addressing those changes.
“Anybody here could say they should eat more fruits and vegetables and that is our big push with the new food guidelines,” McCormick said.
She said the guidelines come from the federal government and are not something her department conjured up. Most notable is the new emphasis on fresh produce.
McCormick said this year serves as an adjustment year for the district where they can test a few different protocol to reach the mandates before full implementation. She said the switch to offering more fresh fruits and vegetables has been challenging in some ways.
“It’s something all the schools across the country are struggling with; it’s not just us,” McCormick said.
Food service personnel have held sessions with students to get input, and some of their observations have been duly noted. At the elementary school, for example, the students asked why there were so many days of the week where sweet potatoes were offered. McCormick said the guidelines no longer allow white potatoes everyday.
Another surprising example dealt with offering grapefruit at breakfast at the high school. The department took the leftovers from the morning and put them on the salad bar at lunch and the item went off like hotcakes.
“Who would have thought grapefruit,” McCormick said. “I’m amazed at what some of the kids load up on.”
To address rumblings in the district about students still feeling hungry after lunch, McCormick said, “I’d like parents to come and see what kids aren’t putting on their plates. If kids are not full it’s not because of what we’re offering; it’s what kids are not taking,” she said.
Superintendent Ben Barton asked McCormick if she could fix or address any particular issues, what they would be.
McCormick mentioned wanting to offer a salad bar at the elementary school and making it easier for kids to be interested in breakfast by opening the school earlier or making the food more visible to the kids, as opposed to making kids stand outside.
The latter idea was met with a comment from incoming school board member Jared Barnes, who admitted to dropping his kids off at the last minute to avoid having them stand outside.
“I’d bring my kids early if they wanted breakfast,” Barnes said.
McCormick also said she’d like to dapple more with the farm to food program.
Barton said he favored the idea as well, adding that the school could, “Grow our own produce and integrate that into classrooms and partner with local farmers.”
The presentation was very well received. Teacher representative Janelle Field Rohrer said she observes food service department personnel going above and beyond to keep the lunchroom pleasant and uplifting.
No action was taken on the presentation, though Barton said a good deal of attention will remain on food service.