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South Seneca School’s Food Initiatives

Food Initiatives at South Seneca Improve Service, Style and SubstanceMenu changes, cafeteria layout changes, refurbished equipment, updated signage and new staff uniforms and duties have all increased student and faculty satisfaction with the breakfast/lunch experience at South Seneca thanks to Sandra Simpson, South Seneca’s new Food Service Manager. Results of a recent survey helped to initiate changes such as adding more tables and chairs so that everyone has seating, attentiveness of cafeteria monitors and a new reach-in cooler (obtained at no charge from Coca-cola)that keeps the “Grab and Go” items in the High School Servery. Sandra Simpson recently commented, “both staff and students are very complimentary of these changes. It has decreased the wait time in the ‘deli’ line and has evened out the lines between the hot and cold serving lines.” Each day (along with the ‘menu of the day’), pizza (on whole wheat dough), hamburger/cheeseburger (fortified with applesauce), chicken patty/buffalo chicken patty (on whole wheat buns) and grab and go salads and sandwiches are also offered. Not only has the revenue from ala carte sales increased: January 2011 meal revenues increased by $351.00 over January 2010 but the changes are “delicious”. Other changes include a realignment of staff duties and placements to facilitate efficiency in the cafeteria operation in the elementary, middle and high school cafeterias. Other changes staff and students have noticed: the cafeteria staff is now wearing the same color shirt, depending on the day of the week. Red shirts are for Friday to honor our service men and women through the “Wear red on Friday campaign”. Signage has been upgraded in all cafeterias for a more professional look, woven baskets for more attractive display of snack items were purchased, replacing utilitarian aluminum pans, thereby refreshing and energizing the serving line. A software update has been put in place to computerize purchasing and inventory and will allow for better cost analysis and financial control. In addition to improvements, several promotional events have been held. In November, a raffle was held resulting in 2 lucky students who were able to plan a menu for a day in December. Joshua Wilkins, fourth grader chose a soft taco menu and 10th grader, Desarai Schuldt chose a popcorn chicken menu. In December, Coca Cola of Elmira donated two basketball games, one each for the Middle and High School. In December, the Elementary and Middle-High School participated in the “Healthy Kids Challenge” contest sponsored by First Lady, Michelle Obama. Local chef, Suzanne Stack of Suzanne’s Fine Cuisine in Lodi, assisted Rebecca Gilfus, Home and Careers Teacher and two of her students, who created a Vegetable Medley Soup. Samples were given out to High School students, who rated the recipe as first rate. The Elementary School student contest team worked with local chef, Samantha Izzo of Sheldrake Point Bistro and created a ‘Tostada Pie’. The fourth graders tested this dish and termed it, ‘yummy’ and ‘awesome’. Five hundred schools entered and 20 of these schools will be chosen to advance in the competition. March’s raffle prize will be a basket of 40 individual bags of chips and crackers.Recent State reviews included a February SED Coordinated Review Effort through Child Nutrition Programs, conducted every five years. The purpose of this review is to insure that all requirements pertaining to the administration of the Child Nutrition Program are being met. In March, the SED School Meals Initiative (SMI) through Child nutrition Programs held a nutrient analysis of one week of menus was conducted to insure that South Seneca is fulfilling State nutrition requirements.The staff has also put together a variety of pie’s for Mrs. Kurzweil, the elementary AIS math teacher for 3/14 which is also the number for pi, a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter . Apple, blueberry, cherry and pumpkin pies were made on site and enjoyed by all. The elementary kitchen staff has also put together some contests to promote healthy school lunches each month starting with a coloring contest for a free healthy dessert given to a lucky student from each grade. April will see a ‘name your own sub’ contest and a ‘pirate pizza Friday’ with a treasure chest for winners to choose a prize from. Future goals of the food service department include improving communication with faculty, staff and student’s, improve public relations with the community and coordinating policy and procedures with the maintenance department. Article by: Naomi Zuckerman, Betsy Sayer

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