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OSD saves $20,000 in a month

The Oxford School District is making progress with new policies, enough to save $20,000 in one month.

Tim Howington, OSD’s child nutrition director, announced the district had increased daily participation in the cafeterias, which has saved money.

Howington said, during a Monday school board meeting, the increase is primarily due to improvements in food taste and quality. The primary savings for September were because of two reasons: the district over-ordered in August as planned for at the beginning of the school year as they restock and cafeteria managers better accounted for food during their ordering process in September.

Howington said the cafeteria managers at all the schools feed an enormous number of children twice daily and do it efficiently while making appealing food.

“They do a very hard job, and they do it with a smile on their face because they truly love our kids,” Howington said. “In August, we hired Chef Karen Irby, an award-winning pizza chef. She has instituted a number of changes in the improvement of food taste by using spices, sauces and flavorings, which do not affect the nutrient quality of our meals.”

Irby may be new to OSD, but she has been in the culinary profession since 1996. She currently travels between all six schools.

“My goals daily are to train the staff at each school how to better the final product. The art piece, as I like to call the final dish,” Irby said. “Whether it’s by spicing it up, creating it from scratch or changing the way we cook the dish.”

Irby said she has a secret spice that she does not want to give away, but she is an expert on tasting a dish and figuring out what spice it needs.

Irby said OSD makes a dressing from scratch now and also has created an original comeback sauce.

Oxford School District saved $20,000 on food costs as well as cut costs of supplies by $6,000. However, other areas cost more in September than August such as service repairs and training costs.

In total, OSD had $172,000 in August expenses compared to $154,000 in September, for an overall savings of around $18,000, according to budget.

Howington said the overall daily participation rate, meaning the total number of students that ate in the cafeterias on average every day, was nearly 45 percent for August. The daily participation rate showed a significant increase of 8 percent for the month of September and rose to nearly 53 percent.

“The future of our cafeterias will improve as our staff becomes better trained through ongoing professional development, Oxford School District Superintendent Brian Harvey said. “Finding ways to improve the taste of food without altering the nutritional values is a challenge but it is a challenge worth taking.”

Harvey said the district’s child nutrition program would continue to improve. Additionally, Harvey said he sees more options with better meal choices and pairing in the future.

“Students in schools will now receive a well-seasoned and nutritious lunch every day,” Harvey said.