Amy Prior is serving as manager of the breakfast and lunch programs at Chase County Schools being operated by Lunchtime Solutions. (Johnson Publications photo)

School not far off; bells to ring Wednesday

New lunch provider will greet students this school year

    Students and teachers will have a couple days to recover from the Chase County Fair, then it’s another big event—start of classes for the 2017-18 year.
    Chase County Schools opens for the year on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at 8 a.m. for a full day of classes, dismissing at 3:30 p.m.
    Supt. Joey Lefdal said he expects K-12 enrollment to push 640 students, up slightly from last year’s 634 after the first week of school.
    Several changes will greet students this year, and one of the biggest is a new school breakfast and lunch provider, Lunchtime Solutions.
    Earlier this year, school board members voted to contract with Lunchtime Solutions, headquartered in North Sioux City, S. D., to provide breakfast and lunch in a new way.
    According to Jill Markussen, area director with the company, the biggest change students and staff will see is more choices.
    Each day, all K-12 students will have at least two main entrees from which to choose. As students get older, more entree choices are offered, she said.
    As an example, on opening day Wednesday, all students K-12 at lunch will be able to choose from chicken nuggets or meat loaf as a main entree, a hot vegetable and unlimited trips to the fruit and veggie bar, where they will find up to six different fresh vegetables, two fresh fruit choices and two canned fruit selections.
    Once or twice a week, the menu at the regular price will also include a dessert.
    Students in grades 6-8 will have another cold entree option each day, such as a sub sandwich, Markussen said.
    High school students get two more entree picks from the “Cruisin’ Cafe” which features grab-and-go items such as a stuffed chicken burrito or quarter-pound hot dog.
    The meal prices include just one entree, the hot vegetable, fruit/veggie bar and milk, Markussen noted, but students can choose more than one entree with the additional cost deducted from their lunch account.
    “It’s all about giving more offerings so they have more control over their meals and what they want,” she added.
    However, she wants parents to know that those additional entree selections, as well as other ala carte items and beverages, are offered at an additional charge.
    “I encourage parents to sit down with their children and look over the menus, and talk about what they liked or didn’t like,” she said.
    It might be a good time, too, to discuss family parameters on spending for lunch as all of the extras can also be charged to the lunch account.
    School board members at their meeting last week also wanted parents to be aware of the extra charges beyond the basic lunch or breakfast price that can result, and to discuss that with their students.
    Markussen also encouraged parents to eat lunch with their children when possible to get a first-hand look.
    Besides the regular menus, Lunchtime Solutions will occasionally offer “homestyle” meals such as lasagna, spaghetti and a local favorite, chicken and noodles over potatoes.
    Current trending meals such as chicken ranch pasta or a hot pepperoni sub will also be tried. At times, when a new offering is being served, students in line will get to sample it, she said.
    Other special promotions are also in the plans. The first comes later this month when students will get to shuck sweet corn to be served at lunch the next day.
    At the school board meeting last week, board members discussed lunch accounts that are carrying a negative balance.
    Students whose accounts are $20 or more in arrears will not be able to access the offered entrees that day, but will be served a sandwich lunch and milk, and have access to fruit/veggie bar. There will continue to be a charge to the account for the sandwich lunch price, Lefdal said.
    Amy Prior has been hired by Lunchtime Solutions as manager of the program. Stephanie Whitlow is head cook, while Janice Large and Jan Jaeger also are employed as cooks. Carolyn Ballentine and Dawn Weber are kitchen helpers/servers.
    The kitchen staff are no longer employees of the school district as in the past, as they work for Lunchtime Solutions.
    Prior and staff spent several days painting the kitchen in orange and gray, and have been busy cleaning and moving equipment around in preparation for next week’s first meals.
Other changes
    After opting not to contract with ESU #15 for alternative
education for 2017-18, CCS is handling that program itself this year, Lefdal said.
    The program will be located in the former drafting

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