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Lower Merion School District


Supporting healthy, appealing options in school cafeterias

The Plaintiffs in the Wolk vs. LMSD budget case recently attacked the District for offering sushi in school cafeterias. A press release from the Plaintiff cites bills of $45K for the food vendor that supplies sushi as evidence of the District’s financial mismanagement. The following was provided by the District in response to inquiries about the matter:

Mr. Wolk has a fundamental misunderstanding of school meal programs. LMSD's school cafeterias operate as a business. The food service program is self-sufficient, with revenues directly funding operations. Sushi is not provided for free, nor is it subsidized by taxpayers. It is sold a la carte alongside sandwiches, salads, pizza and other items in the school cafeteria and is a revenue generator. “Sushi Thursdays” are in fact the biggest revenue-generating days for the District’s cafeterias, netting a surplus of $26K per year – all of which helps sustain the food service program. Sushi is a popular item available in many other districts (and in most convenience stores and supermarkets as well).

Sushi also represents a healthy, appealing menu item that’s reflective of a national shift in how we feed children at school. Health professionals, educators, parents and elected officials have expressed almost uniform support for better school meal programs that serve more varied, nutritious and attractive options. School meals not only have the potential to affect a student’s lifelong eating habits, but also have an immediate impact on their health day-to-day. It’s why we make it a priority to offer meals made from scratch and made-to-order with fresh ingredients. It is what students want and deserve and what parents expect. If we didn’t offer items that students want to buy, our food service program would go out of business.

In his suit against the District, Mr. Wolk specifically states that public schools should adhere to “minimum requirements established by the State Board of Education.” We believe that public school students deserve more than the minimum. We are proud to offer sushi and many other delicious, nutritious and appealing items in the school cafeteria.

Some other facts about LMSD Nutritional Services:

  • LMSD provides more than 7,000 meals per day in ten public schools and nearly 500 meals to private schools throughout the area.
  • LMSD offers full service breakfast and lunch programs.
  • LMSD participates in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program, which provides free and reduced-price lunches based upon need. Approximately 11% of LMSD students are eligible.
  • LMSD was the first district in the state to eliminate all items with trans-fats from the menu.
  • The District's Wellness Council, composed of parents, dieticians, health care professionals, students, faculty and other community members, has worked together to assist in the development of wellness and nutrition policies that promote healthful eating through nutrition education and a school environment that is supportive of healthful eating.
  • The District employs a full-time dietician.