Pizza and meatloaf and batches of fruit and veggies were on the menu for Belle Fourche School Board members and school administrators at last week's board meeting.

The board was getting a sample of the school lunch foods provided by their contractor, Lunchtime Solutions.

The contract will be up for renewal after its first year of operation.

One reason the board had closed its own food service operation was rapidly-increasing federal menu standards for school lunch programs.

Justin Olson, supervisor for the Belle Fourche food service operation, said a crew from the North Sioux City-based company had eight people spending months to figure menus and supplies to meet the federal requirements that even include types of grains used in bread items.

The program includes at least two choices of the main dish plus unlimited fruits and vegetables.

Company officials said Belle Fourche area food products are a priority for serving in the local schools' lunchrooms - and that includes South Dakota beef.

The company also proclaims it has been recognized by the USDA as being in the top 1 percent of school lunch programs for nutritional excellence. Fewer than 1,500 schools in the U.S. have been awarded under the program for meeting or exceeding requirements of the National School Lunch Program.

The company not only includes regular meals, but also periodic special dishes at Belle Fourche High School where students might find the corporate head chef Keith Nelson preparing shrimp and sausage jambalaya.

Lunchtime Solutions serves nearly 40 schools in Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa.

The school district sets the pricing for students, faculty and staff at the school lunch rooms. But students have more choices than in the past.

Olson, who also supervises the company's operations for the Spearfish school district, said he remembered having just one option.

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