Wareham Schools' food services cooking up changes for new year

By Lydia Goerner | Aug 23, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Food Service Director Rob Shaheen speaks at the School Committee meeting on Wednesday where he reported that several changes are in store for students when school begins.

This academic year will bring new programs, menu options and a cafeteria renovation to Wareham Public Schools, announced Food Service Director Rob Shaheen at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting.

Food service expenses have increased for 2016-2017, now at $1,436,883, up from $1,160,413 in 2015-2016. This is because more money is being used to buy fresh products, fruits and vegetables and add new menu items, Shaheen said.

“Hopefully we’ll get some revenue back because our product is better,” Shaheen said.

The School Committee voted to raise lunch prices for students who want to buy a second lunch for the day. The cost was $2.80, but the committee voted to raise it to $2.90 for the upcoming school year. There is no increase in cost for a second breakfast; the price remains at $1.50. Students receive their first breakfast and lunch of the day for free.

Shaheen continued the summer lunch program this year, which provides free meals to children in 13 locations, such as public parks and beaches. He said more students are taking advantage of the program, though he doesn’t measure its success by the number of participants.

“Even if we served two students for the hour, it’s worth it, because those are the children that didn’t have access to meals and they got lunch,” Shaheen said.

The free breakfast program has moved into classrooms in the John W. Decas School and Minot Forest Elementary School, causing the number of participating students to rise “significantly.” Previously, students had to go to the cafeteria and wait in line for their free breakfast, which took around 45 minutes. Now that breakfast has been brought into the classroom, the process only takes 5 minutes, Shaheen said.

Other changes include an asthma awareness initiative through the Wellness Committee. Shaheen anticipates receiving a grant for the asthma initiative this year. This initiative will look at the setup of classrooms, any water spots on the walls and cleaning products used – all variables that could be making students’ asthma worse, said Shaheen.

The Wellness Committee also received funds for wrist monitors to track physical activity during class at the Wareham Middle School. The wrist monitors track students' heart rates and allows them to work toward getting their heart rate up during physical education class.

"It's great to see the kids competing with each other to try to get their heart rate up," Shaheen said.

The high school cafeteria also got an upgrade this year, Shaheen reported. The refrigeration equipment was upgraded, plastic milk cartons will be used instead of cardboard, the cafeteria was freshly painted and there are new high-top tables and chairs. Shaheen said the idea was to give the cafeteria a “cafe atmosphere” and provide a more welcoming environment for students.

The school district implemented the School Nutrition Network, an online resource that allows parents and students to learn all the nutritional information about the food served each day. The web page shows allergens, carbohydrate counts and calories in every recipe.

Shaheen has also been getting student feedback on what menu items they enjoy having in the cafeteria, in a bid to get more students eating meals at school.

“There has been a huge increase in quality of food and variety of food,” said Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood. She said she tried lemon-flavored raisins that will be rolled out this year and they were “quite tasty.”


Comments (6)
Posted by: noseyrich | Aug 24, 2017 09:19

So sad that more than half the kids are from very low income homes.

1.4 million bucks to provide lunches that cost $2.90 each??? But half the kids that eat them pay for them????? Wow, lunch cost a quarter when I went to school. Meals delivered to the classroom??? This story is very upsetting to me...Is half the population of Wareham irresponsible and unable to support their kids???

Kinda proves that socialism does not work, don't ya think???

Posted by: desertsky | Aug 24, 2017 13:17

I get the whole recycling thing but switching from cardboard to plastic?! Alot of towns are getting rid of plastic bags..maybe I'm missing something!? And delivery to the classroom...pretty nifty service, for free. Wouldn't want anyone to have to show up earlier than necessary to get breakfast.

Posted by: Society for Suppression of Noise | Aug 24, 2017 20:59

I'm guessing the cardboard milk cartons were wax-coated and likely not recyclable.  Plastic recycles.  (Towns getting rid of plastic grocery bags are simply virtue-signaling.)

Posted by: desertsky | Aug 25, 2017 07:45

good point SSN..been a few years since I got milk/lunch in school. They most likely are wax coated and I'm glad they can recycle them now.

Posted by: Rosebud | Aug 25, 2017 09:48

Bringing food into the classrooms is a bad idea;  you have more areas to attract insects and rodents. Further, I'd hate to be the teacher when a food fight breaks out.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Aug 25, 2017 15:40

I'd love to know what's offered for breakfast foods. Are they low in sugar and high in nutrition so that the students and teachers have the best possible start to the day? Or are the breakfasts individual prepackaged coffee cakes, sweet rolls, mini donuts, pop tarts and the like?

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