By Michael Schwanke
KWCH Eyewitness News
March 1, 2010
What could you do with a dollar? Could you serve your child a nutritious meal?
Wichita schools have to. The district must serve more than 22,000 meals every day.
"We have challenges with funding," says Vicki Hoffman, director of Nutrition Services for USD 259.
Wichita has just $1.07 for elementary school lunch, and $1.30 for secondary schools.
"Keep in mind that includes milk and a carton of milk is it's a least 20 cents. So you've used that for milk before you start with the food," says Hoffman.
Parents know the other challenge. Debby Cowdin says even if the food is healthy, she knows her youngest daughter isn't eating it.
"Because of her being so picky I know she's not eating good at lunch so I have to do something else at night," says Cowdin.
So just like schools, Debby has to sneak in healthy foods. "Because she's not eating a good lunch I have to make it better at home."
Not only are schools serving these meals for about a dollar a day, food costs increase every. Hoffman says funding isn't keeping up with inflation
"Food costs keep going up labor costs keep going up," says Hoffman.
So can schools prepare a healthy meal with so little money?
We asked Wichita Clinic dietitian Cheryll Clarke. "Overall they're getting what they need from the school lunch program."
Clarke studied the school lunch menu for the entire month. Although she found kids are getting what they need, she also found room for improvement.
"If there's a place they falter it may be on the sodium end, but generally speaking they're meeting their guidelines."
Clarke says for the money they have to do it, they're doing a pretty good job "It is really hard. They're doing good, their doing good for the meals they're providing.
When asked to grade your child's school lunch, Clarke says it passes.
"That's one is hard. They're meeting their needs it looks like their repeating so there's not a lot of variety. So it looks like a B."
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