Learn how the school lunch menu is decided

Lauren Sfeir, Photo Editor

While most students are familiar with the common movie depiction of school lunches being unhealthy and disgusting, Idaho’s Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, and My Idaho Plate have strived to encourage otherwise.

In attempt to reduce child obesity, these programs have enacted nutrition requirements that apply to Idaho school lunches. That being said, the lunch menu at Sandpoint High School is not decided by the kitchen staff, but by Child Nutrition Director Bobbie Coleman.

“There are requirements that she [Bobbie Coleman] has to meet and a lot of them depend on the age or the grade,” kitchen manager Dottie Davis said. “For high school, we are required to give [students] 10-12 grains  for lunch and 9-10 grains  for breakfast per day.”

As well, protein and milk are offered twice a day. Dark greens, fruits, grains, legumes, and items that fall under the starchy category must also be provided every week.

“A lot of this can be balanced out throughout the week…It allows you to get a little more sodium or a little more grain on one day and not on the next, but as long as it balances out in the five days,” Davis said. “If there are only three or four school days in the week it still has to be the same amount of requirements.” 

In addition, the lunch menu is recycled every six weeks so that students can be provided with a variety of food choices and do not get bored with the same food options.

Kitchen resources are brought in from a variety of places, like Southern Idaho and Spokane. According to Davis, food service directors from Northern Idaho meet once a year in order  examine what to purchase and divide it among nine school districts.

While Davis enjoys providing healthy food, she expressed that she would like to see restrictions lightened up a little.

“Sometimes, it is hard for us as food service workers to do certain foods just because we know that they aren’t popular with students. It’s not our choice to make that. It’s part of our job and with any job sometimes you are faced with certain things that you don’t like. There are other things that I very much enjoy because I know students like it,” Davis said.