A Nebraska Thursdays Story: Wayne Public Schools

Small Towns
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51 to 75% of food is made from scratch. Wayne Community Schools bakes a majority of their own bread for school meals.

School spotlight

Food service director: Judy Poehlman

Regional location: Northeast Nebraska

Number of students: 930

Number of feeding sites: 2

Meal participation rate: 70%

Number of food service staff: 13 (One full-time, 12 part-time)

Our local foods

“My staff does the loading and unloading of produce, as well as the cleaning, cutting, and presentation of the food while serving.”

How we got started

“We were already buying local melons, so I decided to ask about other local produce. I looked into other school meal programs to see what they were doing.”

Our favorite local food

“Watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes – they are typically the most readily available, and we get the most use out of them. The kids enjoy the melons the most.”

How much time does it take?

“We cut back on bread production from August to November (depending on the frost) when we have more melons. Prepping 25 watermelons and 35 cantaloupe is time consuming.”

Where we purchase

“Most often, we purchase from grocery stores and farmers who deliver to the school. Also, we purchase from distributors, USDA Department of Defense Fresh Program vendors, and USDA foods.”

Goals for next year

“My goal is to serve the same as I did this year, but if the apple orchard has a bumper crop, they will have more for us to serve. If the weather is good with a late fall frost, we may be able to serve melons longer. The same goes for other produce. My goal is not to stress out, plan my menus, and serve what is available, when I can. I will continue to look for Nebraska products that will work in my meal programs.”

A successful year

“The kids think local melons and apples are fun. They became a little more aware of agriculture in Nebraska, and which foods are produced here.”