"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
Though agriculture plays a key role in Kentucky’s economy, traditionally, few school districts have taken advantage of the opportunity to serve produce, dairy, and other locally sourced products to students. In recent years, Montgomery County Public Schools have made considerable progress incorporating foods sourced from the surrounding community. Successfully overcoming a few potential hurdles along the way—including increased cost implications, federal procurement guidelines, and students’ acceptance—the district has received several Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC) gold awards in the process.
Some of the Solutions
A program of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture called Kentucky Proud Restaurant Rewards offers schools incentives for purchasing produce, meat, dairy products, and eggs from local producers. Thanks to reimbursements of 14 to 16 percent of total food costs, the district was able to offer students fresher ingredients at an affordable cost—while also supporting local farmers. This meant that students could eat fresh apples, cantaloupes, tomatoes, watermelon, and more—fruits and vegetables that taste better than produce that has traveled long distances over the course of days or weeks before arriving on students’ plates.
Measures of Success
Early on, district leaders recognized the importance of reinforcing lessons about eating healthy, fresh-tasting foods in the curriculum. In one school, cafeteria staff coordinated a display of hydroponic lettuce so that students could see how the roots grow in water. High school students enrolled in a greenhouse class and learned to grow lettuce and cherry tomatoes hydroponically. Since establishing these programs, the district has doubled its lettuce usage.
The district’s educational initiatives begin at the elementary school level, where students visit local orchards and see firsthand produce that will eventually end up in the cafeteria. The district’s philosophy is that if students learn about the seasonality of fresh food—how it is grown and where it comes from—children will feel empowered to make healthier food choices and learn to enjoy eating more fruits and vegetables.
The #1 Lesson Learned
Administrators believe the key to making locally produced foods a major component of the school menu is by building partnerships with local farmers, parents, and others in the community. District leaders plan to work toward strengthening and expanding these partnerships and implementing a newly developed farm-to-school curriculum.
Read more "School Food Success Stories" from school districts across the nation.
- Date added:
- Dec 19, 2012
"Three area produce growers have made a solid connection with Siouxland school lunch programs in Hinton, Dakota Valley, and Sioux City Bishop Heelan. The result is a three-way-win, with students getting fresher produce, the local farmers getting access to an important segment of the food service market, and the area economy developing stronger local ties."More info
"These days, it’s easy to blame the federal government for aggravating our lives."More info
As school food authorities work to implement the USDA's new meal standards, they may face challenges, including limitations in existing kitchen equipment and infrastructure, and in the training and skills of food service staff. This is the first of a series of reports summarizing how schools are putting in place the USDA standards and what challenges they face before they can reach full implementation.More info
"Menomonie school district students will be getting more fruits and vegetables with their lunches this year."More info
"It's Back to School season, and for some, that means back to bashing the federal school meal program. On August 27th, a widely disseminated AP article misleadingly implied that new healthier lunches were causing a mad rush by school districts to withdraw from the federally funded National School Lunch Program (NSLP)."More info