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More menu choices on the way for public school students

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The Department of Education is spicing up next year's school menu, with the announcement that this year's food and nutrition services contract has been awarded once again to Sodexo. Under the new contract, Sodexo will provide food services for 37 of 41 Guam public schools.

It will also partner with Global Food Services, Guam's largest locally owned food and facilities company.

Both companies are working to revolutionize the school menu. GFD vice president Dave Alcorn told KUAM News, "I think teaming together is really going to get the results that we've been hoping to perform for this community." And Sodexo resident district manager Mike Schnitger said, "We're introducing the option of two entrees daily to the students, as well as every week we are featuring a locally themed dish." Fellow GFS VP Clifford Guzman added, "Our foods are not quite the same as you would see in a standard USDA menu, but the good news is we do have a working relationship with USDA and the goal is moving forward to try to work with them to see how we could introduce some of these foods."

Schnitger added, "But introducing local flavors is just one of many new additions. We will be piloting the salad bars at secondary schools and with the rollout of that hoping to continue to build the partnership with local vendors on the island and feature some of that product in those salad bars." He also said that he hopes the pilot program will begin later this year.

DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez also announced the expansion of the Community Eligibility Program, saying, "This year we are expanding that program and there will be six new schools, including PC Lujan Elementary, DL. Perez, Upi Elementary, Vicente Benevente Middle School, JP Torres Alternative school, and Tiyan High school, which will be added to the list, so that will be a total of 27 out of 41 schools where students will be able to eat at no cost."

Fernandez hopes providing nutritious meals will help students both in an out of the classroom. He noted a recent study by DOE and the University of Guam showed obesity rates in DOE students has declined over the past five years. "Our kids have to be ready to learn when they enter the classroom," he shared. "We want them to have breakfast, to have lunch, to have healthy options so that when they get into class, they're ready to go, and they're ready to learn."

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