Nutritional data featured on schools' website

Tallmadge first district in Ohio to use Nutrislice website, officials say

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- Nutrition information for food served within the Tallmadge City School District is now accessible online.

About the same time as the school district launched its revamped website Aug. 11, it also started using a third-party service that provides menus for meals served to students at school. Nutrislice Inc. designed and hosts calendars with daily menus broken down by individual foods for each meal, along with corresponding serving size and caloric, fat, sodium and carbohydrate content for each food.

The school district's website has a link to the Nutrislice website where the information can be found in real time.

The school district serves breakfast and lunch daily to students at each school building through the federally funded National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

According to Steve Wood, business director for the school district, the national law "Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act" mandates that school districts make the nutrition information for food served in cafeterias available to those who request it. Although Tallmadge Schools has been giving out the information upon request, this is the first school year in which the information will be available online.

Wood said using Nutrislice to provide nutrition information is more convenient and efficient for the school district compared with printing 2,500 hard copy menus for the entire school year that were given out during back-to-school nights and anytime the menu changed. The decision to take the information online was more about the feasibility of continuing to have paper menus.

"Our meals are just far too complex. The hard copy was back in the day when you'd have one [food] choice [per day for lunch] at the cafeteria for the kids," Wood said. "Nowadays at Dunbar [Primary School], we have two choices every day, at Munroe [Elementary School] we have three choices every day, at the middle school we have three to four choices every day, and at the high school we have five different menu choices every day."

The schools don't have as many options for breakfast but do offer students multiple choices.

Wood believes there will be some cost savings because of lower printing costs, but he wasn't able to say how much. The school district paid a one-time set-up fee of about $1,900 and will pay an additional estimated $500 per year fee to continue to use it.

Although Tallmadge Schools is the first school district in Ohio to use Nutrislice, Wood said the service is popular throughout the country.

Parents and students can use the menus and nutrition information for their general knowledge or use the filter option to identify foods that trigger common allergies -- milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish and others -- and help with meal planning for students with dietary requirements or restrictions, such as low-carbohydrate diets. Parents and students can use the nutrition information to decide whether they want to eat a meal served at school or bring a lunch from home on a particular day.

"It's a really slick tool," he said.

The nutrition information, available online in English and Spanish, will continue to be available in paper form upon request.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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