© Times-Herald photo by Nathan Liewicki
Kim Novak, middle, Prairie South School Division's Superintendent of School Operations for pre-kindergarten to Grade 8, discusses the Nutrition In Schools Accountability Report with Prairie South board members Tuesday.
Nutrition in schools improving, still needs more education
Academics are an important aspect of a child’s development. So too, is healthy eating.
On Tuesday, Prairie South School Division (PSSD) board members unanimously passed the Nutrition In Schools Accountability Report.
The report was prepared and delivered to board members by Kim Novak, Superintendent of School Operations for pre-kindergarten to Grade 8.
One of the aspects of the report included PSSD schools that receive funding during the 2013-14 academic year to run a variety of nutrition. Thirty schools in the division have snack programs, two have breakfast programs – Empire Community School and Prince Arthur School – and three have concession programs, all of which are Moose Jaw high schools.
Those numbers, however, don’t include schools with pre-kindergarten programs.
Aside from PSSD’s high schools, which are nearly self-sufficient, the division’s nutrition program cost $212,960.65 this year, 30 per cent of which was associated with food costs.
Novak acknowledged the appropriate distribution of nutritious food to those who need it most is a challenge, but one PSSD is constantly working to improve.
“The (nutrition) guidelines are there and schools are moving in a healthier direction,” said Novak. “They seem to be more aware of all the challenges.”
Trustee Jan Radwanski believes there is, however, one thing missing with the division’s nutrition policy.
“I think the one thing that seems to be missing in carrying out of the policy is there seems to be a lot of confusion among staff and members that are involved in purchasing and the delivery of these foods,” Radwanski told his fellow board members. “One thing I would advocate is … people need to have a better understanding of what foods can be bought and can be distributed in a snack program.”
While it’s unclear exactly what type of healthy and non-healthy foods are available at specific schools, many PSSD schools answered survey questions surrounding healthy eating for students that were also presented in the nutrition report.
When asked if their school has a policy to address what foods are served and sold, only 45.7 per cent of schools – primarily courtesy School Community Councils and administrations – agreed, pointing to Radwanski’s point.
Novak noted some of that data associated with that number could be skewed.
“They might have been confused having a school policy in addition to the division policy,” said Novak. “But I'm assuming that they all know about the division procedure and since this is a new process that we've gone through that after another year, through conversations with the administrators that I connect with, that they would be sure that their people know that there's a policy and procedure.”
Novak only received the data at the end of March and admitted he has not had a chance to acquire a lot of feedback yet from them.
Still, he noted the important thing is educating everyone about the importance of nutrition in schools.
“There's a focus on the educational aspect of it,” he said. “They need to be doing that at the school level and that's being done in the classrooms, but also in the curriculum.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks