It’s unclear whether Westford Public School students will return to buying lunches at the level they once did before last year’s food safety controversy, but various changes in the department were on display at Westford’s School Committee meeting on Monday night.
Westford Public School food services director Patti Donoghue was on hand to introduce the department’s new website, and fielded questions from School Committee members on topics ranging from the new resource to the district’s decision to not serve “pink slime” beef causing the district to throw away 27 cases of meat and switching to serving more chicken.
The website, which now offers information about nutrition and other topics in addition to school menus, costs the district $595 a year and could be upgraded to provide additional content for an additional fee.
Otherwise, the main topic of discussion with the website was figuring how to disseminate the news that the new website exists as well as how to increase the website’s e-mailed school menus, which currently go out to 25 parents.
It remains to be seen whether the website can help increase the approximately 2,200 to 2,500 students that currently purchase school lunches on a regular basis, a number that has decreased to the factors ranging from last year’s controversy to a distinterest in many students toward eating properly.
Donoghue noted that school lunch purchases have decreased the most in the Nabnasset, Miller and Robinson Schools, although they were not as low as the levels of lunch purchases at the town’s middle schools.
She also noted that many children don’t finish their meals, whether they purchase them or bring them from home, for reasons ranging from societal pressures to the fact that they spend much of their limited lunch period socializing with their friends.
Other updates included the possibility of growing food for school cafeterias at the Robinson School’s greenhouse, a chance that locally grown produce from Springdell Farm in Littleton could become a part of the menu in the fall and the upcoming switch to point of purchase card sales for students in cafeterias.
The final point was enabled in part thanks to the passage of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget at last month’s Town Meeting and is expected to roll out sometime next year.