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3:11 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

Lack of customers prompts KUSD to close bars

Amy Jyrkinen prepares salad Friday before the first lunch period at Kingman Middle School, where she and Barbara Long, right, are cafeteria workers. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

Amy Jyrkinen prepares salad Friday before the first lunch period at Kingman Middle School, where she and Barbara Long, right, are cafeteria workers. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

KINGMAN - Salads, popular among students at Kingman and White Cliffs middle schools, are not being done away with.

That is the word from Karma Jones, director of food services in the Kingman Unified School District. She was contacted Thursday to respond to complaints received in an anonymous letter to the Daily Miner from a KMS student.

"I think it has been 14 years that we've offered a salad bar at the middle school," Jones said. "It has always been popular and participation was high until this year when we went from one entrée to three to offer more choices to students."

At present, students have a variety of items available on the salad bar. They include lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cheese, turkey, ham, kiwis, watermelon, pickles, cucumbers, bell peppers, pasta salad and grapes, the letter states. This allows students to "build their own salad," Jones said.

Roughly 125 students would partake of the salad bar daily. However, that number now is down to about 40, she said.

"We're going to do away with the salad bar as it now is at the start of next year because it ties up two full-time people at lunch, plus there's all the preparation time and product availability to consider," Jones said.

"We have to keep highly perishable products on hand in the cafeteria. Next year, we're going to offer students a pre-made salad that may be a chef's salad with ham or chef's salad with turkey. They'll include lettuce, tomato, cheese and eggs. The kids just won't be able to build their own salad anymore."

Vicky Gibbons, who is in charge of the salad bar at KMS, is losing her job, the letter states. Jones said Gibbons is being transferred to another school and will continue as a district employee.

One other point in the letter states among seventh-graders, roughly 60 percent eat off the salad bar, 20 percent get a hot lunch and 20 percent of students bring their own from home.

Jones said the percentage from home is probably correct. However, student counts indicate about 20 percent consume salad, while 60 percent prefer a hot lunch.

Parents of middle school students next year will learn about the salad bar change from an "Introduction to the Cafeteria" letter included in student packets when they return in the fall, Jones said. "It's called 'Here's the Scoop' and it contains all information on what's available to students, costs and procedures for payment of meals," she said.