By Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Editor 2015-02-24 17:44:02
When the Going Gets Tough... Since the very start of 2015, I’ve been knee-deep in the business side of school meals. I’ve been helping to communicate the reasonable foundation behind SNA’s advocacy priorities (February 2015). I’ve wrestled with the challenge of summarizing the incredibly complex details and broad scope of school meal programs in a mere 40 pages for the 2015 edition of SNA’s The Little Big Fact Book: The Essential to School Nutrition (now on sale at www.schoolnutrition.org/ bookstore). And I’ve seethed quietly with enormous social media restraint, while agenda-oriented bloggers launch slanted and ill-informed attacks on SNA that somehow gain media traction, despite the shaky foundations of the authors’ so-called expertise. I’m exhausted—and I know you are, too. It’s disheartening to have to stay so relentlessly focused on the business of school meals. But until the day that school meals are viewed in the same light as textbooks, science equipment, school buses and computer labs—and funded the same way—then it is a business you must run. That may mean taking some unpopular positions, making some hard choices and defending your decisions time and again—and it applies across the board from directors down to employees. But what inspires me—and what I wish those nasty bloggers, impatient parents and lazy journalists would see—is the fact that you never, ever, ever forget the kids. You make them a top priority in your business model. This issue looks at three child nutrition programs that, frankly, can help your operational bottom line through different efficiencies, reimbursement other formulas. Since many districts are losing participation revenues and experiencing higher costs at lunchtime, opportunities to bring new income into the mix is a compelling reason to take on the extra work these extra programs require. But for most of you, that’s a side benefit. You’re doing it for the kids. You’re doing it to help families in your community—including some of those in your own department who struggle to make ends meet. You’re finding new ways to get summer meals to kids in rural areas. You’re starting a supper program to get extra hours—and benefits—to hard-working staff. You’re combing through registration lists to ensure every low-income kid in the district will get critical school meals. You’re volunteering to coordinate backpack programs to send weekend food home with needy kids. And you’re doing it with a smile—you’re having fun together as a team, with your students and even with School Nutrition’s Ruby Reader, despite the enormous pressures of this job. I read your stories, see your pictures and hear your passion—and I find new energy to face the next challenge waiting my attention. I hope you do, too.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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