Tahlequah Public Schools Child Nutrition Department has undergone several changes over the past year. Our goal has been to make mealtimes a more enjoyable experience for our students. Some of the changes have included purchasing new equipment, opening the Tiger’s Den at the High school, and introducing the Jim Wilson fund. In addition, we have made applications for free and reduced meals available online. We are continually looking for ways to improve our program in hopes to provide our students the best possible meal service.

The Tigers Den was opened on 9/18/23 and has been a great success. The students seem to love the new addition to the High school cafeteria. Students can purchase items like slushies, pops, Powerade’s, cookies, chips, ice cream and other snacks and drinks. All items offered are still smart snack compliant and follow USDA guidelines.  Students are also able to receive a reimbursable meal in this line. The addition of the Tiger’s Den has allowed us to open a third lunch line which has reduced wait time for the students.

Child Nutrition lunch account debt is an issue that many districts deal with each year. The USDA mandates that all school food authorities must have a written policy in place to address situations where children may not have money to cover the cost of a meal at time of service. In the past, we had a charge limit and would offer an alternative meal to a student. This year we introduced the Jim Wilson Fund, named after a past board member. The Jim Wilson Fund was created to give an opportunity for the community to donate funds to help pay for a student’s meal whose family may be experiencing some type of financial hardship.  This has been such a blessing to our district and children.

In February, we will be hosting the Future Chef competition. Children across our district in grades 1st -5th can submit recipes. Three winners will be selected from each elementary site in order to compete in a cook -off on February 28th at the Tahlequah High School cafeteria. Participants will prepare their dish and submit it for judging. Deadline for recipe entry’s is February 14, 2024. Prizes will be given away and the winner will be entered in the Future Chef’s National Challenge. Submission forms are available at your child’s school, or the Child Nutrition office located at 619 N. Jones Ave. Tahlequah, Ok. 

With change always comes obstacles, opportunities, challenges, and triumphs; certainly the 2023-2024 school year has been filled with all of those. Our ultimate goal is to reach all children through school meals, ensuring that they receive the strong nutritional base needed to sustain strong minds and bodies.  Since August, we have served 79,651  breakfasts, 186,279 lunches, 2,947 snacks, and  48,126 suppers . We have served over 300,000 meals so far to our students this year.  I would say that is a triumph!  Thank you for your support and it is a pleasure to serve your children each day!   

Heidi Krueger, Child Nutrition Assistant Director