SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
In 2017, the Salisbury Township School Board voted unanimously to approve Southwest Foodservice Excellence as the food service management for the district.
Arizona-based SFE partners with school districts with a focus on feeding students nutritional meals derived from chef-based recipes. Salisbury was its inaugural school district in Pennsylvania.
According to Monty Staggs, former Salisbury graduate, chef and president of SFE, who received his culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales University, the company utilizes recipes primarily made from scratch and “is the fastest growing management company in the country.”
Prior to going with SFE, the majority of the food purchased by the district was pre-packaged. The staff now prepares meals from scratch under the direction of an SFE chef.
“Everything we do is a culinary innovation. Most companies have a cyclical menu that is continually rotated on a six-week cycle, creating boredom. We take a different approach using fresh ingredients in many base recipes allowing the cafeteria staff to gradually increase their culinary skills,” Staggs said. “We have more than 50 concepts and if you are not satisfied we change the menu to suit your needs. We embrace the feedback we get from the students; we listen to what they want.”
Camille Laszczak, general manager of foodservice with SFE, is the new liaison with the district and is based in Salisbury.
In a recent meeting with Laszczak and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss, surveys were reviewed on the success of the program after one year and suggestions were made moving forward.
Ziegenfuss said in examining the data, students were positive about the variety in their lunch meals, food presentation and fresh fruits.
“They are able to independently make a decision about what to eat for lunch; however, they often choose familiar, no-hassle foods,” Ziegenfuss said.
Strengths of the SFE food service include continuing to add variety to menus and showcase culinary concepts.
One change with SFE was the ability to use the Nutrislice app for parents to see the school menu, see carb counts and allergy information. Parents can call Laszczak and alert her to specific allergy requests.
Suggestions through the survey were made to offer mobile ordering and digital signage. SFE also addressed a concern about long lines to get food by offering salad bars and grab and go lunches.
Areas for growth included taking menu samplings to student advisory meetings and PTA/PTO meetings, construct employee feedback surveys to boost employee morale and build customer service.
In fact, Laszczak said sampling at PTA/PTO and other meetings is one of the goals for SFE this year. Currently, SFE provides 47 bag lunches for the high school booster club for students to enjoy after school and before games. Other catering services are offered.
SFE also serves breakfast at Salisbury Middle School, Salisbury High School, Harry S Truman Elementary School and Western Salisbury Elementary School.
Laszczak said for breakfast, a variety of cereal, muffins, French toast, sausage and egg sandwiches and parfaits are offered on varying days. Smoothies are available at the secondary levels.
For lunch, fresh fruit and a salad bar are offered for students and staff.
Results of the survey showed favorite meals were orange chicken and rice, enchiladas and tacos at the elementary level. At the secondary level, buffalo chicken pizza, chicken nuggets, Falcon bowl and chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and corn were the favorites.
Laszczak said of the approximate 1,600 students in the district, more than half participate in the school lunch program. Each cafeteria has televisions which display the menu and a nutrition slide show.
The goals for SFE are always to ensure the health and safety of the students, increase student participation and participate in National School Lunch Week Oct. 15-19.
Laszczak said more than 30 million students enjoy healthy lunches every school day and today’s school lunches meet strict nutrition standards, including limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. A lunch today must consist of one cup of 1 percent or fat free milk, entrees must include whole grains and lean protein, 1/2 cup serving of fruit daily and 3/4 cup of vegetables.
SFE is also making plans for the annual Thanksgiving dinner including oven roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, buttered green beans, cranberry relish, warm wheat rolls and homemade pumpkin pie. Families will be invited to the dinner and will pay the same price as the student.
Beginning in October, staff and students at the high school will be able to participate in mobile ordering through Nutrislice. By going on the mobile app, users will be able to build their own sandwiches and salad. Users at the high school must order a fruit or vegetable or the order will not be made.
“We strive for participation of the students in choosing fresh fruits and vegetables and children love the independence of picking what they want. They can choose what they want, as much as they want and we can start filling kids up with good food,” Staggs said. He said the food choices made during school lunches will translate to the student’s eating habits at home.