USD 259 adds lunch menu app, new foods for 2019

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Changes are coming to school lunches in Wichita. Students will see new types of food like lasagna and "Protein Packs," and parents might pick up on increased efficiency behind-the-scenes.

The USD 259 Food Service Center is implementing a handful of new menu items, a new menu app which parents and students can access, and new computer software. The Director of Nutrition Services for the district, David Paul, said he thinks parents might already see that boost in efficiency.

"I hope that they notice that their meal application is approved even faster than it was last year," Paul said. "It's working really well for us so far. Of course, once we have our first day of school and we have hundreds of kids standing in line to eat lunch, that's where it all comes together."

In addition to the "YumYummi" website and app integration into Wichita's menu, elementary schools are getting picture-based menu boards.

"Kindergarteners who can't read, they'll be able to visually see what they'll have for lunch that day," said Grace Liss, Assistant Director for Nutrition Services. "So, we're pretty excited about those boards."

Last year, the district added 13 "alternative breakfast" programs in middle and high schools. One of those programs, the "Second Chance Breakfast," may have contributed to a 24 percent drop in tardiness at those schools.

"When kids wake up in the morning, especially high school kids, maybe breakfast isn't the first thing on their mind," Paul said. "So, we offer another breakfast between first and second hours that kids can grab and go."

The alternative breakfast plan has not been implemented in every school, but administrators said it may be rolled out to more schools as the year goes on. Paul said things like ensuring students can eat breakfast or lunch have a real impact on students.

"We really don't know what their access to food is at home," Paul said. "If students come in hungry, they're not going to be able to learn. So, we're here to support the education process."

Look for these changes when the next semester begins next week.