March is National Nutrition Month, a time to focus new energy on giving kids healthy food options throughout the school day. Students consume up to half of their daily calories in school, so access to wholesome meals and snacks is important to their overall health. In fact, research shows that students living in states with strong nutrition laws gain less weight than those in states without such policies.More info
While the district had been working to instill healthy eating habits among students and staff for a decade, school administrators formalized the effort in 2010 by setting higher nutrition standards. The challenges they faced included limited vendor options for whole-grain products; inadequate storage for additional fresh fruits and vegetables; and overall increases in meal preparation time, as they used fewer processed foods.
Some of the Solutions
Cafeteria staff estimated that increasing the variety of fruit and vegetables added 30 to 60 minutes of labor per day. Food service staff now keeps labor costs manageable by adjusting menus to balance healthy options with efficient preparation. When menus include a fresh-cut item (e.g., oranges, apples), staff pairs it with a whole fruit or another side requiring minimum labor (e.g., frozen broccoli). To maintain sufficient storage for the increased volume, produce deliveries are scheduled for twice a week. Staff also closely monitors food preparation and student consumption to avoid over-production and minimize waste, which helps offset the higher costs of whole-grain products.
Measures of Success
The schools now serve a different fruit and vegetable each day of the week; three to five are fresh, with many being seasonal and locally grown. School nutrition administrators estimate consumption of fruit has increased by 40 percent and vegetable consumption by 30 percent. The numbers also indicate that the changes have not impacted the school's revenue. School lunch participation held steady during the 2010-11 school year, while breakfast participation rose by 5 percent.
Snacks and Beverages
To supplement the changes taking place in the cafeteria, school administrators eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages from school vending machines. They now serve only water and 100 percent fruit juices. Alternative fundraisers, such as t-shirt sales during homecoming and sports team play-offs, have offset the lost vending revenue.
The #1 Lesson Learned
Carrollton City administrators and food service staff agree that buy-in from all staff members, including teachers, has been fundamental to the district’s success. Establishing a team approach among school administrators, teachers, and cafeteria staff was a critical first step.
Read more "School Food Success Stories" from school districts across the nation.
- Date added:
- Dec 19, 2012
Jessica Donze Black, director for the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, calls the modification change a “pragmatic and scientifically sound decision,” and San Francisco-based school food reformer Dana Woldow agrees: “[The calorie caps] will automatically limit the amount of potentially fatty protein and grains going into the meals. I think the days of seeing giant cheeseburgers the size of your head in school cafeterias may be over.”More info
It was food delivery day at Glen Landing Middle School in Blackwood, New Jersey, and the 42-year-old walk-in freezer went kaput. Again.More info
infrastructure. More info
This is the second in a series of reports that summarizes how schools are putting in place updated U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, meal standards and the challenges they must overcome to reach full implementation.More info
Schools would be better able to serve healthy, appealing meals if investments were made in new kitchen equipment and infrastructure.More info
Only 1 in 10 school districts nationwide (12 percent) has all the kitchen equipment needed to serve healthy foods, according to a new report issued by the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. The report makes recommendations for how schools, policymakers, industry, and philanthropic partners can work together to make these investments and provide healthy, appealing foods more efficiently. It is the first national assessment of districts’ kitchen equipment and infrastructure needs.More info
"In other words, children will be able to buy only foods that their parents would find generally acceptable,' says Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids' Safe and Healthful Foods Project, a non-profit, nonpartisan group helping to improve school foods for our kids. If your school participates in the National School Lunch Program (most public schools in the country do), they must adhere to these new snack regulations by the start of the 2014 school year.More info