JACKSON – The quality of pizza in the school district’s cafeterias and the duties of nurses in each school were among the topics discussed during a recent Board of Education meeting where multiple presentations were made in preparation for the new school year.
District Food Service Director Joseph Immordino spoke to members of the board noting in a PowerPoint presentation that the service successfully participated in a produce program which saved the department $30,000. This program is part of the US Department of Agriculture.
It also implemented digital menus at the district’s two high schools and highlighted meals, special events and student recognition.
Immordino noted that the service increased breakfast participation and purchased a new food service truck to replace a previous truck which is unable to be repaired.
School Board member Michael Walsh suggested expanding service to students walking home at the end of the school day and asked about a prior kiosk for breakfast items and if that would be revisited.
“The kiosk at Jackson Memorial High School had to cease as it didn’t bring in the money we had hoped for. We are hoping the one at Jackson Liberty High School will do better,” Immordino said.
During his presentation, Immordino said that the service had increased state reimbursement income due to severe needs rate for its breakfast program.
The food service is continuing upgrades to both lunch and breakfast menus to include fresh health options to comply with or exceed USDA guidelines.
Immordino told board members that the service launched a “recipe of the month” on its website and that it has had “over 3,180 views since January.”
The food service has continued its “theme days” to generate student fun and excitement at the high schools with Playa Bowls and a taco truck.
Student surveys have been employed at both middles schools and the service received $1,500 in anonymous donations to assist families in need with outstanding lunch charges.
Board President Scott Sargent asked about the quality and taste of pizza served at the schools.
“It is not made by hand but that is a valid question,” Immordino said. He noted that the cost of labor would prevent pizza being made on site. Four different premade pies were reviewed by the service for quality and cost effectiveness prior to a selection being made.
Assistant Superintendent Dan Baginski, with the help of school nurse Irene Menafra in the audience, reviewed the district’s nursing program during the session.
“A lot of what our nurses do is about compliance and showing care. Our nurses have the unenviable task of record tracking and following many regulations,” Baginski said.
Baginski spoke about the importance of individual health plans (IHP) as it applies to students with diabetes, asthma, and those with food allergies.
Sargent noted an incident where a nurse identified a student who had a broken foot during a physical education class.
Baginski said that the district will have one less permanent nurse this new school year but would have two part-time nurses at the Elms and Cranford-Rodriguez elementary schools.
Walsh noted that the McAuliffe Middle School and Jackson Liberty High School had noted a high increase in visits to the nurse from the 2016-2017 school year. McAuliffe rose from 9,215 to 10,521 while Liberty jumped from 11,357 to 12,731.
Baginski said this was most likely due to a higher student population at both schools.
It was also noted that the district offers free sports physicals as a health service.
“What is the most challenging part of your job?” Board Vice President Vikki Grasso asked Menafra.
“The record keeping,” Menafra quickly responded.
She was also asked about parents who would not comply with immunization practices.
“Parents who choose not to have their children immunized have to provide their reasons which are usually religious in nature and we record and file those,” Menafra said.