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Rye Schools Food Service Director Talks Nutrition

RYE, N.Y. -- John Rubbo is responsible for what gets put on the menus at all five schools in the Rye City School District, and he wants parents to know that they can take an active role in their children's diet outside of the home.

"I'm always looking for input from the parents about what they want their kids to eat," said Rubbo, the school district’s food service director.

There are many ways for parents to get involved in their child's nutrition, he said. A valuable resource is the district's food service website , where menus for each school are available.

Each school also has a "wellness committee" made up of teachers, staff and parents, where issues regarding nutrition, physical and mental health are addressed. Rubbo said he often attends these meeting to get input about school menus.

Rubbo also instituted a series of "Take Your Parent To Lunch" days at the elementary schools, where parents can join their children in the cafeteria and see firsthand what they're eating.

Meals at the elementary and middle schools are pre-prepared by food distributors like Sysco and Thomas Miller . Rubbo said meals can't be prepared on site because most schools lack the proper facilities, but that freshly made salads and fruit are provided.

At the high school, the cafeteria is more like a college dining hall with multiple stations where students can pick and choose what they want to eat, from burgers and fries to deli sandwiches made to order, soups and salads. Rubbo said there has been a large push to move away from processed meats and that no sodas are made available to students within the district.

Meals at all schools are purchased with a debit account that parents can set up and manage online. All students are given pin numbers to their accounts. For younger students, teachers and staff provide assistance as children often forget their pins, Rubbo said. All purchases are documented online.

Although high school students have a lot more food choices than students at other schools in the district, each item purchased is documented so parents can still monitor what they're eating.

"It' all about empowering the parents," said Rubbo.

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