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Verndale students can look forward to more menu variety

Verndale Cook Manager Barb Brown and her kitchen staff will be taking steps to please more appetites after a session with the District 818 board Monday evening.

Verndale's cooks have been experimenting with two entrées from time to time during the 2011-2012 school year. Beginning in the fall, the two-entrée schedule should be more practical for the staff and they asked to start with a two-day-a-week offering which eventually could be extended to five days.

"My concern is that we're giving them something they will eat," Verndale Board Member Scott Veronen said.

The cooks asked the board for a new Combi oven to help them with the job of preparing a double entrée. Combi ovens can be programmed for convection, steam and combination cooking. The staff also requested a new hire to help during the two-hour serving time.

The issue came up when members of the student body approached the Verndale administration and asked for more choice in their noon meals. Since the campus is closed when school is in session, students must either use the school's food service or bring their lunch from home. School figures show that 60 percent of Verndale students receive free or reduced lunch at the school.

The school had a food service consulting firm look at the Verndale operation and make recommendations. The board asked Brown to make her own recommendations at the February board meeting.

Board chairman Marc Edin will head an ad hoc committee on the food services issue. Brown was invited to attend a school finance committee meeting April 16 and the staff was encouraged to take a stronger hand in running food services.

"We want it to be yours," Edin said to Brown and her staff. "We'd love to get you taking care of your own budget."

In other board business:

• The Local 70 support staff agreement was approved with an annualized increase of 3.68 percent.

• The donation of a $2,500 defibrillator by Arliss Lovelace in memory of her grandson Cody Lovelace was acknowledged.

• The board approved a senior class trip to Minneapolis April 27-29 by 15 of the senior classes' 25 members and their adult supervisors.

• Dan Johnson was hired as summer rec director and the board approved Anna Burrows, Nathan Runyan and Jason Runyan as his assistants. The board also hired Stacy Finck as summer pep recreation director and Amanda Richter as her assistant.

• The school's summer food service program was approved. The program will run June 4 to July 27.