KSDE recognizes districts, organizations for child nutrition programs

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 10:59 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas State Department of Education has honored school districts and organizations for outstanding practices in child nutrition.

The Kansas State Department of Education says eight Kansas school districts, three organizations and a group of leaders were honored for outstanding practices in Child Nutrition and Wellness programs supporting the Kansans Can vision on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

KSDE said the Kansans Can 2019-2020 Best Practices Awards were presented during the Kansas State Board of Education meeting in Topeka and this is the fourth year the awards have been held.

According to the Department, the Kansans Can vision was established by the State Board of Education in 2015 and is “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.”

The Department said the recipients are as follows:

  • Wamego USD 320: Kansans Can Implement Innovative Meal Pattern Strategies – For the unanticipated school building closures in March, Wamego switched from cafeteria meal service to a grab and go model with four sites and a home delivery model with less than 24 hours of notice. It stepped up to the challenge continuing to serve delicious meals in a grab and go format that included nutritious food using a leading industry bagging system. Parents said children were trying new foods and breakfast participation increased 349% due to the exceptional quality of the grab and go meals.
  • Haven USD 312: Kansans Can Serve Local Foods – Haven High School went green and implemented a greenhouse in Haven USD 312. By mid-March, the greenhouse was producing and growing enough produce to support student demand in the school lunch program. Students grew the produce and grew to love it being offered in their salad bar.
  • Elk Valley USD 283: - Kansans Can Serve Local Foods – Students use an on-campus garden and vo-ag classes to put fresh produce on the plate in child nutrition programs. Students work year-round in the garden and raising pigs to provide fresh produce and pork for meals. Produce grown and donated to the district food service included onions, kale, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans, salad greens, carrots, beets, melons, and more saving the district over $500 in food costs. Participation in meals increased by over 30% due to the quality of student grown food.
  • Topeka USD 501: Kansans Can Provide Outstanding Customer Service – Through innovative outreach strategies, Chris Wagner and Nicole Jahnke worked with churches, libraries, civic organizations and local businesses to increase access to meals beginning in March and continuing through the summer, expanding meals to seven days a week throughout the summer. The District reported an 83% increase in summer meals from June of 2019 to June of 2020.
  • McPherson USD 418: Kansans Can Provide Outstanding Customer Service – The District served summer meals at five locations throughout the community, and provided meals to children in surrounding communities when other districts ended meal service in May. Under the leadership of Bill Forese, the District served over 151,731 meals through July of 2020, which is a 1,360% increase from the summer before.
  • Maize USD 266: Kansans Can Provide Outstanding Customer Service – The District maintenance department gave exceptional internal and external customer service during the unanticipated school closure emergency. Under the leadership of Joe Naputi, Stan Starkey and George Gruver, staff members worked with food service staff members to implement a positive experience for children participating in the curbside meal pickup. Maintenance staff moved refrigeration, loaded meals into vans and more. Most memorable was when the team wore costumes to entertain the community at meal distributions.
  • First Choice Support Services Inc.: Kansans Can Step Up to Lead – Two staff members stepped up to lead by implementing innovative services. Sierra Sheets took initiative to develop monthly newsletters in Spanish to increase provider understanding of Child and Adult Food Care Program procedures and help gain knowledge of best practices. Mercedes Morgan took initiative to create online training during COVID-19 that promoted the program’s educational tools and best practices, as well as practical information on the implementation of regulations.
  • Navigating Change 2020 Food Service Operations Committee: Kansans Can Step Up to Lead – KSDE said it is extending its thanks to members of this committee who stepped up to lead and donate their time to research and develop considerations for foodservice operations to be included in its Navigating Change: Kansas' Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations. Members are as follows:
    • Jessica Younker, chair, Hays USD 489
    • Nancy Coughenour, Shawnee Mission USD 512
    • Connie Kimzey, Cherokee USD 247
    • Lori Campbell, Silver Lake USD 372
    • Tracy Moerer, Burlington USD 244
    • Megan Barnard, Maize USD 266
  • Wamego USD 320: Kansans Can Increase Participation – Implementing the 2nd Chance Breakfast increased breakfast participation at Wamego Highs School by 139% and data indicates that more students in the reduced price and paid categories are eating breakfast.
  • Haven USD 312: Kansans Can Increase Participation – A proactive approach to handing out breakfast after changes to the school day schedule doubled breakfast participation with the implementation of a 2nd Chance Breakfast option offered between first and second hours at the high school.
  • Southern Lyon County USD 252: Kansans Can Increase Participation – The Department implemented a 2nd Choice Breakfast option at Olpe High School in 2018 and saw a 91% increase. The program pushed the district to apply for an innovative breakfast grant for the 2019-2020 school year to implement 2nd Chance Breakfast at Hartford High School in 2019. Participation increased at Hartford by 46% and as part of a school redesign, Hartford Junior-Senior High School students helped with the 2nd Chance Breakfast in conjunction with their applied business class. Jane Kelley, a business teacher, and Anna Baum, food service director, worked with students on meal patterns, inventory and more.
  • Liberal USD 480: Kansans Can Increase Participation – The District has seen success at every level of implementing innovative breakfast delivery models district-wide as part of a school redesign. The 71% increase in breakfast participation is attributed to using different approaches at different grade levels. The district implemented breakfast in the classroom in elementary schools and 2nd Chance Breakfast at secondary schools. Connie Vogts, a food service director, has been a mentor and source of information as other districts work to develop innovative breakfast service models and positively impact student success.
  • Quality Care Services Inc.: Kansans Can Increase Participation – To increase participation in the CACFP, Quality Care Service, which before had exclusively sponsored daycare homes, began sponsoring child care centers in the fall of 2019. Quality Care Services increased participation in the CACFP by adding two daycare centers and increasing participation of daycare homes in the underserved counties of Pottawatomie and Riley. When national participation trends for sponsors of daycare homes were trending downward, Quality Care Services' growth increased.
  • St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church: Kansans Can Increase Participation – The church has been a Summer Food Service sponsor and sponsor of CACFP for many years, this year due to unanticipated school closures, it started its Summer Food Service Program in march and increased locations to help meet nutritional needs of children in Salina. The church sponsored locations at its home site, the YMCA, library and two schools. The proactive approach to meet the needs of children in the community resulted in participation doubling from the previous summer. The church served over 16,000 meals through July and continued to serve summer meals through Aug. 28.
  • Maize USD 266: Kansans Can Adapt – Lynn Scott and Lynette Drevo, food service employees, were instrumental in implementing the production of meals served during the unanticipated school closures. They utilized existing inventory, managed shortages from suppliers and daily production numbers to launch the Seamless Summer Option at Maize, which was the first time it was offered. They partnered to design and perfect the process of bagging individual breakfast and lunches into a larger bag for curbside pickup of multiple days' worth of meals to minimize potential COVID-19 spread. The District served over 89,049 meals using a two day a week curbside pick up model.

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