School nutrition officials are trying a saucy way to get students to eat school lunches.
They’re adding personal pan pizza.
WCHS and WCMS have added Smart Mouth pizza to their daily lunch offerings, providing what director of school nutrition Sandy Dawes says is a restaurant-quality product.
“It’s really good pizza and the kids love it,” said Dawes. “The children are our customers and we have to give them something they enjoy. Times are changing. It’s not like it was back in my day when the two choices were take it or leave it. If it’s something they don’t like, kids today just won’t eat it.”
The addition of Smart Mouth pizza comes as the Warren County School System is trying to hold onto a federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to every student at every school. The program is in its fourth and final year and Dawes says it may not be renewed.
“There are not as many economically disadvantaged students here as there were four years ago,” said Dawes, who stressed that is definitely promising news. However, the improved financial situation will hurt Warren County when it comes to reapplying for the free meal program.
Dawes says one way to help keep the program is to show it’s needed. She says that can only be done if students eat school lunches and the numbers are high.
“The kids who receive food stamps, they’re going to get free lunch anyway,” said Dawes. “This program helps working families and it helps our principals. They don’t have to keep up with who pays and who doesn’t. And with everyone getting free lunch, there is no meal shaming. Children don’t have to feel bad because they get free lunch.”
Dawes says cafeteria managers have worked hard to add menu items students enjoy. For breakfast, there’s now a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. There’s also a fruit smoothie that comes with donut rings.
“We need student body participation so we need to entice kids to eat with us,” said Dawes. “This program is something we definitely want to keep. The way I look at it, somebody is going to get the money so it might as well be us.”
To pay for the pizza ovens and other related expenses, the county approved an expenditure of $159,744 for equipment and food supplies from Bull’s Eye Brands.