Fri09192014

Evolving with regulations, Los Altos' school lunch programs retain local ties


Courtesy of USDA
Federal and state mandates require that school districts load school lunches with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. But the salad bars added to modern school cafeterias, above, don’t exist in the Los Altos School District, which is cafeteria-free for elementary and middle schools.

The landscape of school lunches has shifted across Los Altos in recent years, as the parent-run, all-volunteer lunch program has had to professionalize from an organized restaurant delivery service to a catered, federally compliant nutritional edifice.

The rules continue to change – this year pastas and pizza dough must qualify as “whole grain” as the school district works with vendors to assure compliance with federal and state guidelines.

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Beyond Berkeley: Expanding options


Town Crier File Photo
College options expand greatly if students look beyond UCLA and UC Berkeley to smaller UCs, the “public ivies” and private schools.

As application season heats up for the Class of 2015, families face the reality that the best way to get into a top UC is to come from outside of California.

The admissions news heightens anxiety as UC acceptance rates continue to plummet: UCLA this year had a record low 17 percent acceptance rate, and UC Berkeley admitted just 20 percent of its applicants.

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"Nurse Barb" offers college-ready health primer for recent graduates


courtesy of University of Oregon
University health centers offer more than just doctors on call – students can find travel and vaccination services, sexual health resources including free condoms, mental health services and often even a pharmacy.

Mountain View-based nurse-practitioner Barbara Dehn, known as author and presenter “Nurse Barb,” compiled tips for parents this year as they prepare students for the transition to college.

Eating and sleeping well, study habits, exercise and drug and alcohol choices are key components of a family conversation on the way to college.

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First aid kit for the dorm

An emergency kit – the basic Band-Aids and pain relievers of everyday life – can be reassuring gear to send with students. Dehn started putting together a kit this summer for her own son, who is heading to a university in Oregon. What’s on the list?

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The season for reason

Some years back, I was invited to recite an original poem at the kick-off breakfast for a bond campaign for the Los Altos School District. At the time, the district had the goal of giving its students, young as they were, the ability to “reason.” I grabbed the word as if it were the brass ring on a carousel ride.

Today, our schools still represent reason. Now – as then – young parents choose to live in our community for a very good reason: the quality of our schools. Now – as then – my tribute to the teachers who make good schools happen still holds. Time has not stood still, but the logic hasn’t changed. Even for a poet.

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