News and views from School Food Service Director Karen Pagano
On May 1, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide greater flexibility to the federal meal pattern requirements for the purpose of making food choices both healthful and appealing to school age children.
So what does that mean for the healthy initiatives for School meals ??
- Why would schools want to serve meals with less nutritional regulations?
These initiatives were actually lobbied by the School Nutrition Association. Since the start of the HHFKA of 2010 the products available to schools to meet the grain and Sodium requirements were in most cases inferior to products previously served. Students were not pleased with the regulated Whole grains and lower sodium items. Directors are struggling with changing the menu mix to provide meals students are familiar with, and want to buy. Meal participation in most schools is down significantly and the cost of the whole grain and reduced sodium products is higher than before the regulations began.
- What does lower meal participation mean to School meals?
School Nutrition programs in most school districts operate independently of the school budget. Funding from schools meals needs to be self sufficient. The structure of school meals relies on numbers - the higher participation- the better schools are able to sustain staffing and purchases. School meal programs across the nation are experiencing unprecedented losses in revenue since the original regulations began in the 2012 school year.
- How will Beacon’s Meal program change with the new reduced standards?
The belief of Beacon School Food Service is that we will continue to work to change menu development and purchasing to reflect a necessary change to a healthier school meal plate. Our initiatives will continue with introducing fresh locally grown vegetables, expanded scratch cooked lower sodium soups and entrees, providing a variety of entree salad options, introduction of the local vegetable of the month programs, purchasing from local farms, and the expansion of the “finger food” approach to elementary levels meal options. We will continue to reduce the overall sodium levels in our nutritional profile of our meals. Fat free flavored milk will be our standard regardless of the new standard permitting 1% flavored milk. We choose take the high road when it comes to the meal planning for the Children of Beacon.
We may in some cases offer enriched pasta rather than Whole grain until a good tasting product becomes available that holds up to the mass quantities we serve. We may offer Enriched Bagels in place of the poorly received Whole Grain version now available. Those are the only new regulations we will choose to adopt.
- Will these standards be a step backwards in the Healthy options for school meals?
No - concerned Directors will continue to provide the best possible meals within their budgetary limits.
- Where do ala carte (snack) items fall in the new regulations.
The items sold in schools cafeteria - as well as throughout the school buildings including vending machines, fundraising sales and snack purchases in cafeterias must still follow the 2014 regulations limiting calories, sodium, fat, sugar and trans fats for all items sold. This regulation did not change.
Supporting school meals - means a buy in at all levels - 46% of Beacon School children are eligible for free meals. The program must remain strong to support the health of the students we serve.
To add money to your child's lunch account, please click on the following link/picture(s):
How do I Enroll?
Go to www.myschoolbucks.com and register for your free account.
Add your students using their school name and student ID.
Make a payment to your students’ accounts with your credit/debit card or electronic check.
A program fee may apply. You will have the opportunity to review any fees and cancel if you choose, before you are charged.
If you have any questions, please visit www.myschoolbucks.com and click Help or call MySchoolBucks Customer Support at 1-855-832-5226.
Food Service Management
Phone: 845-838-6900 X2012
Degrees and Certifications:
BSE , Physical Education and Nutrition
Mrs. Pagano brings over 35 years of Food Service Management experience to our School District.
She has been the Food Service Director here in Beacon City Schools since December of 2012. The challenges of each business line have helped her to bring the best of these differing Food and Nutrition management stragegies to our District under the watchful guidelines of USDA and Child Nutrition. As a parent in this district you can be assured Beacon City Schools food service department meets or exceeds these standards serving nearly 2000 meals daily in our 6 cafeterias.
None of this work would be possible without the dedication of the strong Management team in the food service office and the kitchens of our schools. These dedicated professionals have significant cumulitive experience in School Food service and help to make each meal for your children a positive experience each day.
Our Management team includes:
Chinasa Okon- Account Clerk
Beacon High School - John Matthews and Margaret Kinney
Rombout Middle school - Darlene Mazzacone and Jaime Postolan
Sargent Elementary - Shawanda Gory and Marilyn Plumer
South Avenue Elementary-Karla Lahey and Joshua Kirk
Glenham Elementary- Carla Tranberg and Cindy Yalanis
J.V. Forrestal- Christine Godel and Micheline Warner
Dennis Lahey - Courier
Please feel free to contact our team with any concerns with your students meals.
Wishing a Healthy 2016-17 School year.