Citrus School’s Food & Nutritional Services

CRHS Cafe'Citrus School’s Food & Nutritional Services

Not your old school lunch days

If you were to guess, who would you think owns and runs the largest restaurants in Citrus County?  It is Citrus County School District, Director of Food Services, Roy R. Pistone II, RD, MEd, SNS and his great staff.  Citrus Food & Nutritional Services department serve on average about 8,600 lunches a day and over 3,200 breakfasts a day!  His department manages a budget of $6.3million a year and none of those funds are paid by local Ad  Velorum  Tax Payers.

Some will say that, “school districts should run like a business.”  Well, the Citrus Food & Nutritional Service Department does.  Food Services is a self-supporting department.No general fund dollars are used to fund and support the department.  Food Services do receive federal funds by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) along with a minimal amount of state funding.  All the other revenue comes from meals and ala carte sales or in other words, pizza, fries, smoothies and more.  Now don’t tell the students, but, even the ala Carte items (Snacks, etc.) meet the Alliance For A Healthier Generation guidelines so they are health conscious too.  In addition to offering students and staff breakfast and lunches, Food Services offers catering services for school functions at a competitive price.

Food Services Mission is: “To contribute to the mental, physical, emotional and social development of all students by continuously providing healthy meal choices and nutrition education.”

Food & Nutrition Services - CompareFood Services are continuously adding new menu items to appeal to students and their tastes.  The different school levels have different menus because what elementary kids might like high school students may not.  The most popular food items are what go onto the menus.  Students participate in taste testing and foods tested by kids must get a 75% or higher “like” in order to make it onto the menu.  See the lunch comparisons that Food Service developed to show both the nutritional and economic values of a school lunch. (see pictures)

Food & Nutrition Services - Store Bought vs Food Services

See what $2 can buy in Food Services

Making a menu that is yummy to students and nutritious for them is an ongoing challenge.  Mr. Pistone explained that Food Services adheres to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 which established new guidelines for meals served to children through the federally funded National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.  These newer standards increased the requirements for Whole Grains, and Fruits & Vegetables served at both Breakfast and Lunch.  It established Minimum and Maximum Calorie Levels by Age Groups, and reduced Sodium.  Mr. Pistone explained that formerly they had to only meet just minimum calorie levels.

Food & Nutrition Services - Lunch from store vs lunch from Food Services

Your $2 can buy more in Food Services

Some of the challenges for Food Services are the continuously rising costs of foods and goods.  To help with this the Citrus County Schools is a member  of the district of the P.O.W.E.R. Buying Group  a group of 36 School Districts in Florida that use their purchasing power to receive the best pricing of food, beverages and supplies.  Collectively P.O.W.E.R. has purchased approximately $300,000,000 annually.  That is a lot of food!

As a result of Food Services managing itself so efficiently, Food Services pays and offsets cost of other aspects of our schools food operation.  As an example Food Services pays for significant portions of school cafeteria and kitchen remodeling.  They replaced the students’ dining tables that are also sometimes used by the staff during lunch period in the cafeteria.  If not for Food Services funding our schools would not be maintained and look as well as they do.

In  continuing  to meet the new demands for students and staff,  Food Services has now Developed a Carb-Count Data Sheet for Diabetic Children (click here to access)and are currently developing a Food Allergen Data Sheet for children with Food Allergies.

I regularly have an opportunity to sample the Food Services lunches and breakfast items, and when I can, I purchase a school lunch. They truly are yummy!   I have my favorites, like the Turkey wrap and the breakfast cookie.   Both are made of 100% whole grain too.  I encourage you to find your favorite and share with me what it is!

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