On the menu: KPBSD Student Nutrition Services

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For lunch today … a few questions:
Would you like a piece of whole grain bread for you or your child?
Does low-fat mozzarella cheese sound like a good protein addition?
How about a serving of a fruit or vegetable? 

Sound good and healthy?  Would you be surprised to learn that you’ve said yes to Whole Wheat Pizza from the KPBSD student food services lunch menu?

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Spanning 25,600 square miles, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Student Nutrition Services serves 1,000 breakfasts, 3,000 to 4,000 hot lunches, and 3,200 mid-morning fresh fruit or vegetable snacks—every, single, school day. That’s impressive. The small but mighty crew of eighty SNS professionals serving at thirty-four sites throughout the school district provides a valuable service and contribution to the health and well-being of our students. A hungry student has a difficult time staying focused, alert, and engaged.

A complete meal, including labor support and transportation is served daily at our schools—for about the price of a cup of coffee. During a recent visit to one of our KPBSD elementary schools, the lunch meal smelled delicious. Maple grazed French toast, sausage–breakfast for lunch–was on the menu. The students were talking, laughing, and the healthy social buzz that happens during meal time permeated the room.  School lunches, and breakfasts, contribute to the well-being of our students.

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You may have encountered the recent news buzz questioning, “Is pizza a vegetable?” Dean Hamburg, KPBSD Administrator of Student Nutrition Services explains, “Pizza as a vegetable is media mythology. We do a scientific nutrient analysis of an entire meal. It really is true that tomato products are a fruit and veggie thing. Tomatoes are not meat, or fish, or dairy product. So when school meal programs include tomato products in our nutrient analysis, we count tomato products as part of the fruit and veggie contribution as partnered with beans, applesauce, or whatever else is included in a daily menu.”

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We all have perceptions of what school lunches entail, and perhaps have the perception that school lunches are unhealthy, and high-fat. This is not true. Would a nutritionally sound, low-fat, low-sodium lunch of approximately 600 calories be sufficient to help fuel your body for action, learning, and engagement with your day? In fact, school lunches may be the best example of a student’s nutritional life. When school is not in session, the KPBSD SNS office is often called by families and asked, “Do you have any leftovers I can serve to my children?” or “Where can I feed my children when school isn’t in session?” There is a growing dependency on school lunch and breakfast programs as families need affordable ways to provide healthy meals. This is true in our school district, Alaska, and across the nation. Forty-five percent or more of our students qualify for free or reduced meals.

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Every day, thirty-two million children in public schools throughout the United States eat a USDA school lunch. Hamburg explains that to understand the national school lunch program we need to “back up to 1946” and learn what transpired: “President Truman, Congress, and the Department of War did a review of General Inductees in the draft and enlisted personnel in World War II. They discovered that many young Americans were unfit for military service because of malnutrition. Thus, the National School Lunch Act was passed in 1946, and began providing lunches for public school children.” The National School Breakfast program began in 1966.
Hamburg and the hardworking KPBSD student nutrition services crew are passionate about our students and school nutrition. Hamburg serves as the Public Policy and Legislative Chair for the Alaska School Nutrition Association (AKSNA), and says, “Thirty-eight states provide some additional support to school meal programs. The State of Alaska has not yet come to a partnership in supporting school meal programs. The passage of Senate Bill 3 would change this reality.”

We can be proud of our KPBSD student nutrition services crew. Next time you are at a school, please say thank you to the student nutrition employees. They work very hard, and may be providing the only nutritional meal that a child will eat during the day.

KPBSD-SNS is a proud sponsor of USDA-United States Department of Agriculture-breakfast and lunch programs. As a sponsor that receives USDA financial support, we are responsible for supporting USDA nutrition requirements and guidelines.

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•  KPBSD Student Nutrition Services including menus, nutritional analysis of meals, and more
•  National School Lunch Act 
•  Alaska School Nutrition Association 
•  USDA SuperTracker
•  USDA Food and Nutrition Services