Saint Mary’s Catholic School Lunch Program Survey Results
Several weeks ago, we asked for your feedback on the lunch program at St Mary’s School. We were very pleased with the strong response. We heard from 146 families who took the time to complete the online survey and provide many comments and suggestions. Thank you for your participation and for your valuable feedback. Should you be interested in reviewing the results of our survey, Click Here.
The survey data suggested that nearly 55% of our families ordered lunch from the school at least once, or as often as 4 times per week. Families felt the selection of food and nutritional value was Good or Fair and strongly indicated an interest in improving our offerings in these areas. When presented with an option to expand the menu to include prepared sandwiches or a la carte items, nearly 80% indicated interest. As for pizza Friday, 83% indicated they want the program to continue. Finally, nearly 80% of our responders suggested the lunch cost should be somewhere between $3.50-4.50.
As you might imagine, the suggestions and feedback spanned a wide range. Many comments were repeated often: offer more vegetables, smaller portions, and greater selection. All of the comments have been reviewed and will continue to be factored into the improvement of our lunch program. The greatest challenge in administering a program to an enrollment of our size, is providing it at an affordable cost with strong nutritional value, while recognizing the need to manage spoilage and waste. It should be noted, the school lunch program has consistently run at a deficit over the last several years and we are hopeful that better food management and increased participation will assist in breaking even.
We see and hear repeatedly that our lunch program is of value to our students and families. Many of our peers in the Diocese have opted to outsource their program to a third-party vendor or a food service management firm. Overwhelmingly, our responders commented on how much they like Chef Gene and the fact that we offer the lunch program. Listening to your feedback and comments from the survey and from informal conversations over the years, we are focused on improving our program and continuing to deliver a quality lunch program as affordably as possible.
The following are several improvements to our program for 2017-2018:
* We will be forming an advisory committee of restaurateurs, food service specialists, and nutritional experts from within our community to help us improve and refine the program over the next year few years.
* We will attempt to offer a more diverse and healthier selection of menu items and to reduce our portion size.
* We will be adding a la carte items and prepared sandwich options to our weekly menu by introducing a “box lunch” concept that will include a choice of several sandwiches, chips/veggie, and fruit.
* We will be looking to improve our milk program and reduce spoilage by offering milk to students in grades K-5 only and not to the middle school.
Our last objective requires participation from all families, our staff, and volunteers. The amount of waste from our current lunch program is staggering. While we have compressed schedules and lunch can be hectic, the volume of uneaten food is extremely high and needs to be addressed. We ask parents to reinforce the value of the lunch program and the need for children to eat the lunch they bring or buy daily. In an effort to engage our parents and improve this process, we will track the refuse we produce and send home periodic reports and reminders. We want and we need your help in communicating this to your students.
Again, thank you to our families for your participation and feedback in our cafeteria survey. Look for further information in the coming weeks as we finalize our new offerings. This is not meant to be a quick fix, but will be an ongoing assessment over the next year or more. With the help of our families and our advisory committee, we believe we can offer a high-quality, nutritious, and cost competitive lunch program at St. Mary’s.
Cheryl B. Henig