School board approves new food program, considers solar power

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By Alex Greenlee
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – A new food service program is on the way and a solar energy project is in the discussion phase following the Warrensburg R-6 Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening.
Heather Wirsig, director of food services, made the food recommendations to meet new USDA requirements and to offer more fruits and vegetables.
“At every meal, they get to choose from two fruits and vegetables,” Wirsig said.
She said it is mandatory that students take one of the four offerings, as they encourage students to try new things.
Wirsig started offering new fruits and vegetables for the students to try this year. For example, the students tried kiwi, honeydew and plums.
“The biggest thing for me since I’ve been here is a lot more scratch cooking,” she said. “We hired professional cookers not professional re-heaters.”
She said meatloaf day was a big success.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive comments from staff and principals about how much better the food is getting,” she said.
The board unanimously approved the food service program.
Future plans for the program include:

  • A farm-to-school program, which connects local farmers to the schools and provides a lesson about local agriculture.
  • A school garden where students plant produce and then use what they have planted.
  • Encourage the district to compete in the Healthier U.S. Challenge.

In other business, John Sedlock, of Brightergy, gave a presentation about the possibility of installing solar energy equipment at buildings throughout the school district.
The proposal is for the school district to install 16 solar array systems on building rooftops. He said the system from Brightergy would be maintenance free and insurance free.
It would be a 20-year term with a fixed rate on the lease with the possibility of a 1 percent increase per year depending on terms of the deal.
He said the system would offset about 8 percent of the district’s total electricity use.
“Germany is the world leader in solar production and they offset about 7 percent of their total electric use in solar,” he said.
Board member Mark Curtis made a motion to move forward with the project. However, the motion failed for a lack of a second.
Beth Rutt, vice president, said she would rather the board call a special meeting on the project.
“I think it’s worthy of looking into,” she said.
Andy Kohl, assistant superintendent of finance, said he was skeptical of the project at first but he has since realized the benefits.
“We’ve met with (John Sedlock) two or three times now, and I’m pretty impressed with what I see,” Kohl said.
Kohl said the system could save the district about $500,000 over 20 years. He said taking a green step would be a good public relations move for the district.
The board scheduled a meeting about the solar presentation for next week to decide whether to approve the project with Brightergy by a tentative deadline of Oct. 1.