PORTLAND -- A Portland school lunch program touted as an example of healthy eating could be sidelined by red tape at the start of the school year.
New federal reporting guidelines for nutrition have put the very healthy program in jeopardy.
All involved are trying to come up with a solution that gets the food-wellness program going by the time school starts.
The Kitchen Garden program at Abernethy Elementary School has won awards for integrating a garden--and cooking--with other subjects, like math and social studies. Kids there Tuesday for a summer camp prepared fresh pasta with pesto made from basil in the school garden.
But new federal reporting guidelines administered through the state require districts to get their food menus approved before they can receive any federal money.
Portland Public Schools spent three months getting the main district menu approved, but learned just two weeks ago the same process must happen for Abernethy's unique menu.
“It’s frustrating for the food services, for us here at school, for the parents and the kids,” said program chef Nicole Hoffman, “and it would be a real disappointment to lose what we’re doing and not move forward.”
Approval for the Abernethy menu could take until December due to the complexity of the regulations, district officials said.
Parents, school leaders and representatives from state and federal agencies have scheduled talks, starting Tuesday evening, that could lead to a solution.