About the RI School Food & Nutrition Program

Rhode Island Leads the Way in Nutrition and Wellness

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) School Food Services program is the first of its kind in the United States. With a strong focus in nutrition and wellness this program was carefully designed to improve the health of Rhode Island students while making school food programs across the state more viable and self-sufficient.

Benefits

Nutrition
Wellness and Health Education
Transparency
Simplicity
Cost Efficiencies
Community Engagement

Nutrition

The statewide school food and nutrition services program is designed to encourage the consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. In addition, all menu items exceed federal nutrition requirements for meals and snacks. These enhanced requirements include:

• Reduced sodium foods
• Products with more than 50% whole grain ingredients
• 100 % juices drinks with no added sugars
• No artificial sweeteners
• Low-fat and fat-free milk
• More fresh fruits and vegetables offered everyday, sourced from local Rhode Island farms whenever possible
• Snack foods listed in the Rhode Island approved product list

Wellness and Health Education

When it comes to wellness and health education, Rhode Island will lead the way by implementing a variety of nutrition awareness programs that are designed to reinforce the importance of healthy lifestyles for all Rhode Island students. Through RIDE’s partnership with ARAMARK Education, students across the state will have access to a robust portfolio of brands and programs that appeal to all ages. At the elementary level, ARAMARK’s school nutrition mascot Ace™ and his friends share their wellness message through a monthly themed program. At the secondary level, ARAMARK’s Treat Yourself Right (TYR)™ communication program reinforces healthy choices through informative newsletters, flyers, menu identifiers and nutrition tips.

In addition, ARAMARK Education has partnered with Kids First, a Rhode Island non-profit organization to provide wellness education to students, staff and the community. Participating districts will benefit from a variety of activities and wellness experiences such as nutrition education workshops for students and parents, nutrition assemblies for students and school staff wellness workshops.

For more information about Kids First, please log on to www.kidsfirstri.org

Transparency

The statewide program is built upon a platform of fiscal transparency and accountability. With RIDE and ARAMARK Education working together, school districts across the state can rest assured that they will receive clear and verifiable results and will not be victims of hidden fees nor unethical accounting practices. In addition, all districts participating in the statewide program will introduce NutriKids – a computer system that will replace traditional cash registers and provide accurate data for state reports and reimbursements. Nutrikids also includes the following features:

• Prepayment service and 24/7 convenient access to account balances at MyNutriKids.com
• Faster lines and reduced cash handling means more time to enjoy meals
• Ability for parents to pay by credit or debit card, Paypal and e-check
• No risk of forgetting lunch money
• Parents can monitor student purchase history online
• Manage the entire family’s school lunch accounts – all at once
• Student privacy is maintained by eliminating lunch cards and rosters

Simplicity

Instead of going through a complicated and lengthy Request for Proposal (RFP) process, through the statewide program, school districts can switch directly to ARAMARK. The process is completely legal and approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education and the USDA.

Cost Efficiencies

Individual school districts and the state of Rhode Island will be able to significantly lower the costs of utilizing private food service providers by eliminating the costs of issuing, monitoring and evaluating the traditional RFP process. This benefit will prove especially important next year due to changes in USDA regulations that will force districts with cost reimbursable contracts to rebid their food service management contracts.

Community Engagement

The Rhode Island Department of Education and ARAMARK will continue to work with local groups, state and national non-profit organizations to connect with the communities we serve. Recent community engagement efforts included:

• ARAMARK’s Building Community Rhode Island Volunteer Day in partnership with City Year
• Supporting Supplier Diversity in Providence, RI
• Grown in Rhode Island: Harvest Fest series in partnership with Kids First