Interview with the Director of Child Nutrition at FUSD: Elsie Szeto

1. What are the nutritional requirements when purchasing food for the high schools?

Answer: School lunch programs are required to follow the Nutrition Standards set forth under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) which established under Section 201 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 HHFK 2010).  Since we are located in California, we must also follow food regulations set forth under the Education Code (EC) section 49430, 49431, and California Code of Regulations (CCR) sections 15575, 15577, 15578 and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 210.11 and 220.12.

2. Do you believe that FUSD students who rely on school food have enough healthy options?

Answer: Based upon those requirements listed above, school lunch are very healthy.  Irvington Lunch menu offers 10 – 12 main entrees, a variety of fresh fruits and portioned canned fruits and fruit juices, four choices of vegetables to choose and 2 variety of milk daily.

3. What is the process the district uses for buying, distributing and making the school lunches?

Answer: Menu items are based on taste test conducted at school sites throughout the school year.  Irvington High participated in a taste testing last year and the next one for Irvington School is scheduled for February 2014, next month.  Student feedbacks are important aspect that drives what is offered on the menu. All Food Procurement goes through a bid process which is required under the Federal regulations. The district has Bakers and Cooks to utilize to make the elementary school breads and all grade level menu items from scratch.

4. Are there any problems such as budget cuts that have limited what the district can do regarding school lunches?

Answer:  The Child Nutrition Services works within the budget to provide a quality, nutritious, healthy products for students to participate in the breakfast and lunch programs offered at Irvington High School.  The meals and food offered at Irvington School follows the regulations set forth by the government.  I have Quest students working on projects to identify ways to encourage students eating school meals than buying low nutritive value foods at the gas station across the street, or eating donuts at the Donut shop across the parking lot and Brono Billy’s that offer a hugh pizza slice and sodas for the same price as a school lunch meal, but is definitely higher in fat, sat and calories.  All this unhealthy eating will eventually lead to health issues that may include decreasing one’s life span without any thought to this.