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Food Services Director Updates School Board

Inflation has hit district hard, but reimbursements are up

By Adam Reinherz
The Tube City Almanac
March 06, 2023
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Fifth-grade students from Francis McClure Elementary School delighted board members and school leaders when describing the process of creating a Black History Month gallery walk at a recent school board meeting. (Adam Reinherz photo for Tube City Almanac)

Participation in breakfast and lunch programs at McKeesport Area School District is up across the board, but so are expenses.

Ryan Grados, food services director, told the school board at its most recent meeting that the department is making a profit this year, to the tune of $278,198.

“The reimbursement rate that we received was $2.46 for breakfast, and $4.31 for lunch,” Grados said. “Everybody knows that inflation is hitting us pretty hard, so the state has been generous enough to offer us a higher reimbursement rate; therefore, this year we’re receiving $2.77 for breakfast and $4.51 for watch.”

Grados said because federal guidelines for buns, rice, bread and pasta say that those items must be 80 percent whole grains or enriched, the purchasing department for nutrition has tried to acquire light-colored wheat options: “When the students see that darker gray stuff, they don't necessarily think it’s as appealing as the white bread.”

Similar efforts have been made to find lower sodium potato products. “Those are big hits with kids,” he said.

Board President LaToya Wright commended Grados and the food services department and said the surplus funds will be rolled over to next year.

The school board also held a moment of silence for slain McKeesport police Officer Sean Sluganski. Wright asked attendees to pause and remember Sluganski, who died after being shot while responding to a domestic dispute call Feb. 6.

In other business, fifth-grade students from Francis McClure delighted board members and school leaders when describing the process of creating a Black History Month gallery walk.

Speaking before the board, the students explained their efforts at researching Gladys Mae West — a mathematician whose work contributed to developing the Global Positioning System — and how West will be one of more than 30 individuals recognized on the school’s hallways.

While detailing their collaborative project, the students related an early obstacle that resulted in an educationally and socially beneficial outcome.

Superintendent Tia Wanzo congratulated the children and asked for more details about the process of partnering.

The students replied that after disagreeing about which font to use they ultimately worked it out.

Adam Reinherz is a freelance writer. He can be reached at adam.reinherz@gmail.com

Originally published March 06, 2023.

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