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‘Six Cent’ increases funding for school nutrition

Madison City Schools

MADISON – Marty Tatara has succeeded with “Six Cent For Child” certification, which will increase federal funding for nutrition in Madison City Schools.

The Madison district’s funding will increase by approximately $50,000 annually. Tatara works as child nutrition program supervisor.

Before certification, the federal government subsidized ‘free lunches’ at $2.86, reduced lunches at $2.46 and regular lunches at 27 cents. Starting March 1 with ‘Six Cent,’ those amounts each increased by six cents. For example, Madison now receives $2.92 per free lunch.

“Any additional revenue definitely helps and keeps paid lunch prices down,” Tatara said. “Extra revenue can offset the costs for more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”

The Six Cent program indirectly resulted from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which Congress passed in December 2010. The act required school cafeterias to increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains, eliminate ‘trans fat’ and continue to limit fat content.

However, fresh foods are more expensive. “To offset costs, Congress also passed Six Cent for reimbursement for each lunch meal,” Tatara said.

To receive certification, Tatara changed menus to comply with federal guidelines and documented compliance by using forms, menus and nutritional analysis “to prove what we are doing.”

“Madison has been ahead of the curve for a long time,” she said.

Starting this school year, all Madison cafeterias have a fresh fruit and vegetable bar. Reaction has been positive. “Students can get anything they want no extra cost,” Tatara said. Choices include romaine lettuce, watermelon, berries, baby carrots and broccoli.

“Most elementary age children will eat raw fresh fruits and vegetables,” especially as finger foods, Tatara said. “A fresh carrot’s flavor is so sweeter and crunchier for a small child.”

For next school year, Tatara plans to expand the food bars. “It’s really expensive. Not every school system does this, but kids are enthusiastic and eat what they get.”

Tatara started working in child nutrition with Madison County Schools in 1988. She transferred in 1998 to work for the new Madison City Schools district.

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