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District cafeterias roll out healthier luncheon menus

French fries are out, and made-to-order subs are in these days for Orchard Park students.

As the school district rolls out its plan to encourage students to eat healthier foods, changes are appearing in the cafeterias this year.

Orchard Park was one of the last school districts in the region to stop serving fries on a daily basis to its middle and high school students.

This year, the daily fries became extinct; fries will still be available once in a while -- but they'll be baked, not fried. The cafeterias are promoting pasta, rice and baked tortilla chips as substitute side orders, instead.

This fall, Orchard Park High School introduced a made-to-order sub station in the cafeteria. Students seem to like it. The school sells about 120 subs a day now, according to Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey R. Petrus. A similar offering was introduced at the middle school this month.

The high school had been offering prepackaged salads for some time, but this year, the cafeteria introduced made-to-order salads. It has helped to increase the number of students eating salad -- but still, only about 15 students, or one in 100, buy salad each day.

Since the made-to-order subs and salads were introduced, the high school has been selling an average of 20 more lunches each day at the high school, Petrus said.

In the latest push for healthier eating, a nutrition advisory committee in the school district is recommending that the schools stop offering students the chance to buy a second -- or third -- lunch at the same low price, $1.10, as their first lunch.

A number of students buy a second full lunch just to get more pizza or tacos. By offering the lunch at the same reduced price as the first, the school seems to encourage overeating, Petrus told the School Board on Tuesday.

And, Superintendent Joan D. Thomas said, students seem to waste a lot of food when they buy a second full lunch. The district is considering charging students on an a la carte basis for items they buy after they purchase a full lunch.

That will also help the district recoup money it loses by selling second lunches at the reduced price, Petrus said. The federal government reimburses the district for school lunches, but only one per student.

The district will continue selling second lunches for $1.10 for now, but the board is likely to reconsider that practice in the coming months.


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