May 5, 2007

Stretching food money

This morning's Ithaca Journal leads with articles on poverty, visiting a Groton mother as she shops for groceries on food stamps in Lansing, and exploring related issues like transportation costs. There's an article on school food programs with a section about Dryden schools I think is worth emphasizing:

The Dryden Central School District began overhauling its food program two years ago to make its meals more nutritious. The district, in which 672 of the 1,871 students receive free or reduced-price meals, sees good nutrition as key factor in helping students perform. Dryden students can no longer buy a la carte items such as sugar-based drinks and fries as the only items for their lunch. The district is paying closer attention to portions and has removed all fried foods from its menu.

"We've gone back to some of the basics and traditional home cooked meals like meatloaf and chicken pot pie,” said Suzanne Wixom, the school lunch specialist for Dryden schools. "It's extremely important because I have kids that tell me 'this is the only hot meal I'm going to get.' It's sad to see them on Friday and tell me that they are going to be hungry on the weekend."

The district's food program is the main means of sustaining students throughout a school year, said Mark Crawford, Dryden superintendent.

"I used to have a lot of kids that I would keep peanuts and different kinds of trail mix for because they would come in and say 'I'm hungry, I'm hungry,'" said school counselor Tara Buckman. "I don't see that as much this year during the day as I did in the past. I think it's because we're helping them to make good food choices ..."

District officials said they observed an unexpected effect of improved behavior, too.

"We don't have this anxiety of having the kids on this big sugar high after lunch," Buckman said.

Mary Ellen Bossack, a Dryden school counselor, called the behavior improvements a "bonus."

"We were hoping that they would feel better and be less cranky," Bossack said. "Kids get cranky when they're hungry, and the little ones don't know that they are hungry exactly, they just know that they don't feel good."

There's also an article on how the cost of food affects nutrition, and one on how the federal government can't bring itself to say "hunger" any more.

There's also notice of four local National Merit scholars, including Lily K. Glidden of Freeville.

At the state level, the headline Report may help case for mergers of governments proves disappointing. While it turns out that taxpayers in Long Island pay 30 percent more for their government than those who live in Northern Virginia, 'rationalization' of local government structures would save a grand 10% of the cost. While that seems a small return to me on a massive change that would affect how people access their government, my bigger concern is that I'm hardly convinced that Long Island is comparable to the rest of the state that uses the same basic county/town/village/city structure. For one small example, the Town of Hempstead has around 400,000 residents; the Town of Dryden has 13,000. Apart from the title 'Town', there isn't a whole lot in common.

Posted by simon at May 5, 2007 9:03 AM in ,
Note on photos


ICSD began on overhaul of its food program as well. And while the food that is served in our schools is purported to be more nutritious than in previous years, I hardly think that fried cheese sticks as an entre can be called "good for you." Even with all the positive steps they have taken thus far, I pack Hannah's lunch so I know I have total control over what she eats (lots of fresh, organic food). But for those who don't have the luxury of buying such high-quality food, certainly the lunch program is nothing at which to scoff. THANK GOODNESS for free and reduced lunches, or a lot of children would go hungry.

KAZ said:

It's worth mentioning that Newfield manages to provide free breakfast to every single student in the school. They find it well worth the effort.