Superintendent: School salad bars still on COVID-banned list

Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
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KEYSER - A return to school for most of Mineral County’s students has brought with it some complaints and questions about the food choices being offered in the schools.

Some students and parents have noted that the schools that had previously offered salad bars or a la carte items no longer have those options and they want to know why.

According to superintendent of schools Troy Ravenscroft, those options are not currently allowed due to strict COVID-19 regulations imposed by the State of West Virginia.

By not allowing salad bars, Ravenscroft said, you have eliminated the “go to for every single student who does not like what we’re having that day.

“We have asked if there were different ways we could have a salad bar … we’ve even asked if we were serving it … and still no salad bars,” he said. “We’re working with the Office of Nutrition with the WVDE to see what creative ways we can have salads.”

Ravenscroft also noted that, with the school cooks no longer tasked with making meal packs to send home as they did when students were all on remote learning, they should have more time to work on adding some options at the schools.

“It won’t be what they had before, as far as having all those choices down the line, but we’re trying to find a way to have more options for our students,” he said.

And while some seem to question a perceived difference in serving sizes, especially after Mineral County qualified to offer free lunches in all of its schools, Ravenscroft says the portion sizes have not changed.

“What has changed is that there used to be, let’s say, six or seven different things and the kids could all pick from them, now the trays are pre-made. They can’t have all those choices. There are so many things  with COVID that we have to dance around,” he said.

Ravenscroft also noted that some schools had set up what they called a “share table,” where students who chose not to eat a packaged item, or piece of fruit, could leave that item for another to pick up, but that too had to be eliminated due to COVID.

“So with no share tables, and no salad bar, you just took away two things that really matter a lot, especially to the high school kids - an option when you don’t like it, and more when you want it,” he said.

Ravenscroft hopes the school system will be able to return to a more normal meal operation next year, and in the meantime, they continue to work on creative ways to expand their offerings this year.