Homer CCSD 33C
Goodings Grove Luther J. Schilling William E. Young William J. Butler
Hadley Middle Homer Jr. High
Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager
email@example.com | 708-226-7628
For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2016
Fresher, healthier lunch options coming to Homer 33C
A committee of parents, administrators and staff members conduct a taste test while researching various food service options for the district.
The days of serving heat-and-serve prepackaged meals are coming to an end in Homer School District 33C.
The district is switching food service providers in August, enabling schools to serve healthier, made-from-scratch meals and salad bars.
Wraps, sandwiches and yogurt parfaits
“We’re excited to offer students and staff a variety of high quality foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables each day as well as freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps, pizza and pasta on a rotating basis,” said John Reiniche, the district’s assistant superintendent for finance.
In February, the district surveyed parents to find out what types of meals they would like to see served in the schools and whether they would be willing to pay more for fresher, healthier options.
Salad bar with fresh fruits and vegetables
Of the 567 responses received, 75 percent indicated they would be willing to pay more for higher quality food.
Students currently pay $3 for pre-packaged meals. For 50 cents more, Homer 33C will be able to offer fresh fruits and vegetables each day at self-serve salad bars, artisanal breads and wraps (including options for students who are gluten-free), taco bars with made-from-scratch salsas and tortilla bowls, hand-tossed pizzas and whole grain pastas.
The food will be prepared on site by Quest Food Management Services, a Lombard-based company that currently services over 110 kitchens across the Chicagoland area.
Among the company’s clients are schools in Orland Park and Tinley Park.
Before deciding to enter an agreement with the company, several Homer 33C school board members and administrators visited Century Junior High School in Orland Park to see Quest at work.
“I was impressed,” said board member Elizabeth Hitzman who visited the school on April 26 and talked to a few students as they ate lunch.
Each one gave the food a thumbs-up — especially the wraps and sandwiches.
“It was unanimous,” said Hitzman. “They loved it.
A committee of Homer 33C parents (including one who has a child with dietary restrictions), administrators and staff members conducted a taste test while researching various food service options for the district.
They, too, gave Quest high marks for taste and quality.
By switching companies, Homer 33C will solidify its departure from the restrictive National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which benefits only about 10 percent of students.
Administrators say the program’s strict guidelines for the types and portions of food served have greatly impacted the number of students who participate in the district’s food service program. Only about 15 to 20 percent of Homer 33C students partake in the school-prepared meals.
Based on surrounding school districts that have already switched to Quest, Homer 33C administrators expect to double the number of students who purchase their meals at school.
“The food is fresh, wholesome and flavorful,” said Reiniche, “with menus prepared around seasonal and regionally available ingredients.”
Another advantage to switching programs and moving away from NSLP is that the district will be able to partner once again with its Parent Teacher Organizations to offer healthy treats from time to time, enabling the group to raise money for school programs, activities and equipment.
The opportunity was negated in recent years by NSLP restrictions, said Reiniche.
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