Food service to students increases in Oxford schools

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
OXFORD TWP. – During the Feb. 27 Oxford Community Schools Board of Education meeting, food service director Patty Silorey gave the board an update on the food service department for the district.
“Now we have operating kitchens in all seven of our buildings,” she said. “We feed Bridges High School out of the middle school. We even have an app where our OVA students can order food at the high school.”
Silorey took the position of food service director in 2020. Following the pandemic, students took their breakfasts in their classrooms, and it worked well enough that the department continued the practice.
“The kids come in and go straight to their classroom, and the teacher has a roster and they ask who wants breakfast and checks it off, and two students bring reusable grocery bags down to the kitchen and hand my staff the roster,” she said. “And they fill the bags and send the two kids back. And my staff wait until later in the day to charge those kids. Otherwise, if they all came through the line, it would really cut into their learning time.”
On that roster, elementary students also order their lunch choice. Due to the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids act, students are required to take a fruit or vegetable to make a reimbursable meal.
“Since the student is required to select a fruit or vegetable to make it a meal, I try to offer the nicest options I can, and many options so they will find something they will eat,” she said. “If there’s leftovers, then my staff is able to sell them as second entrees.”
So far this year, food service staff have served 43% of the students breakfast, and 66% lunch, which is higher than previous years. Last school year, less than 20% of students got breakfast and less than 40% got lunch.
“This is a very healthy lunch program,” Silorey said. “I have a wonderful food service staff and they are working very hard.”
Due to the influx of students getting lunch at school, some changes were made to cut down on time in the lunch lines.
“I did not want to make these changes, but I didn’t have a choice,” she said.
Changes include eliminating hot breakfast items, discontinuing the two soft tacos meal, serving more “walking” tacos instead of nachos, replacing glazed French toast with pre-packaged items, replacing the fresh breakfast sandwich with a pre-packaged item at the middle school, moving the Lakeville elementary cold bar into the cafeteria, having pre-order available at the high school and middle school, and more grab-and-go options.
“The meal can be ordered up to five days in advance, and that meal is packaged and charged, and they can come right to the front of the line,” Silorey said. “It is not used at the middle school, not at all. At the high school, not too much either.”
The only things available for preorder are made-to-order sandwiches, salads and stir-fry, which Silorey said is the longest line.
“Kids are waiting 24 minutes in line,” she said.
Silorey also outlined changes she would like to make if she has enough staff, which includes using substitutes as a third person to support the elementary schools, opening a deli line at the middle school, and opening another fast-food line at the high school with more grab and go options.
Pre-ordering and menus are available through the Nutrislice app.

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