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Healthy food options pay off at DL Schools

The business of school meals is booming.

School lunches may have gotten a bad rap over the years, but in Detroit Lakes, school food is picking up in popularity.

That’s according to Duane Dunrud, the district’s food service director.

Dunrud reported to school board members Tuesday that not only are the schools feeding an average of 75 percent of the student population with 2,093 lunches per day last year, but breakfast counts were also up by 3,798 from the previous year.

Revenue from catering agreements was approximately $245,000, which remains the same for this year.

Investing in a new concession stand at the high school seems to be paying off the way district leaders anticipated, as first year sales were up by 28 percent to $28,474.

According to Business Manager Nancy Olson, those increases will go up significantly too, since football season sales were included in the 2011-12 numbers, but not last year’s.

The doubled profits in those concessions go into the student activity account.

This school year, the menu will again reflect the healthier menu options that keep the district in compliance with the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which it qualified for last January.

That means more whole grains, more protein-rich foods, low-calorie dressings and extra fruits and vegetables.

Dunrud says he believes it’s these healthy options at the new concession stand that also contributed to its increased sales.

“I’ve had several people from other communities totally impressed with the salads and fruit cups,” said Dunrud. “They said they’ve never seen it anywhere else.”

A thriving food service program at the schools will also translate into another year of no price increase for school meals.

Full-priced lunches at the elementary schools will remain $1.55, $1.80 for secondary school students and 40 cents for reduced lunch prices, which 47 percent of Detroit Lakes students receive.

Adult lunches will increase by a dime to $3.35, however — a move Olson says is mandated by the government.

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

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