Food service director plans to expand breakfast

By Jeff Smith

Jace Ciluaga, seventh-grader, picks out the breakfast items he wants at the school cafeteria on Nov. 17. Change is coming soon to the way breakfast is served in the school district.

The school board was introduced to the new Point of Sale (POS) system at the Nov. 13 Board of Education meeting that will debut at the events for winter sports. 

One of the machines will be at the middle school concessions and one will be at the high school concessions.

The POS system operates through a Samsung tablet. Concession workers will open the Square app where all of the menu items and prices are stored.

“When a person places an order everything is tracked and catalogued online with sales and inventory reports sent to the business office,” said superintendent Mike Hanson.

The receipt printer and cash drawer are also linked through Square.

Those who work concessions will see photos of the different food items on the device.

A few months ago the school district started the process of finding the right platform for concessions that includes software and hardware.

According to Hanson, the benefits are stronger cash control, a good way to monitor inventory, and excellent online reporting of sales and receipts.

“We’ll start with our concession stands and then look to see where we can implement Square in other areas of the district,” Hanson said.

Roxann DuBois, food service director for Hill City, said her tune has changed in terms of what do with breakfast in the school district. She changed her tune from offering breakfast to everybody to providing it in a unique way.

“I’m still looking at breakfast expansion,” DuBois said.

Under her plan, Kindergarten to fifth grade would have breakfast in the classroom, middle school would have Cafe Your Way and high school students will have a mobile food cart.

DuBois noted that the numbers for participation in breakfast is incredibly low. The daily average for the elementary is nine students, nine at the middle school and three at the high school.

“Anything to get those numbers up is a winner,” DuBois said.

There are not enough students in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to have the school district take part in Community Eligibility Provision. This would provide meals to students at no cost to the school district.

The school district already serves breakfast but this new plan would make it more available.

A mobile cart is going to be wheeled into the high school for breakfast. This will give students an opportunity to have a grab-and-go breakfast.

“This may consist of a smoothie with banana bread or a yogurt parfait,” DuBois said.

At the middle school she would like the cafeteria to be more friendly to middle schoolers which gave her the idea of Cafe Your Way. She is thinking that music playing and games would get more middle schoolers to come in.

“They in turn will eat more breakfast,” DuBois said.

DuBois thinks just in grades K-5 the breakfast participation will go up to 100 students a day with the expansion.

DuBois is super excited about the expansion.

“Anything to bring nutrition to kids is a big deal to me,” DuBois said.

For the Hill City School district, the plan  is a little bit out-of-the-box thinking. But similar schools have done something similar to what DuBois wants to do. 

In looking at literature for breakfast in the classroom it states there is better attendance, higher test scores and the school district meets the needs of students.

“Coming to them and bringing what they need is positive,” DuBois said.

DuBois has talked with the Midwest Dairy Council about her idea and they awarded the school district a $5,000 equipment grant. With the grant the school district could purchase coolers.

Local residents Mike and Erica Welu donated $5,000 to go toward feeding the students.

“This allows us to charge $1 a breakfast for K-12,” DuBois said.

Each classroom at the elementary school would have a cooler and insulated bags for overfill. A mobile food cart would go to the high school.

For breakfast in the classroom it will be served right to the students as they come as to not interfere with their academics.

Third grade, Kindergarten and first grade have been through trial runs of breakfast in the classroom. DuBois said it gives her a good feel for what it will be like and gets challenges out of the way.

She would like to have a trial at the high school too. The idea is to have high school students use a pin pad, which is what they use for lunch, at the mobile cart.

This will also give DuBois an idea of what the high school students are interested in as far as meals.

DuBois has the resources right now as far as staff to do breakfast expansion. The goal is to start the breakfast expansion as soon as the students get back from Christmas break. Board member Mike Welu suggested having a more concentrated effort to get the word out to the parents.

“I think we need to market it to the students and make sure everyone is aware of what is being offered,” Welu said.

Since then there has been a letter sent out to parents that highlights the benefits of expanding breakfast for the schools.