"All over the region, little pockets of activity are coalescing into a collaborative Food Revolution a la Jamie Oliver, the British chef who champions healthier food in schools and elsewhere. Last fall at the One Young World conference held here, he challenged Pittsburgh to revamp its eating habits -- and Pittsburgh's delegates took him seriously."More info
Mississippi has one of the nation’s highest rates of obesity. From 2003 to 2005, the percentage of overweight first-graders grew from 27 to 43 percent, and the percentage of overweight seventh-graders rose from 44 to 55 percent. Since then, the state has been making progress in reversing this trend. Between 2005 and 2011, the overweight and obesity rate among all public elementary school students dropped from 43 percent to 37.3 percent. As one example of local efforts, in 2009 the Lamar County School District set a goal to meet the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) criteria.
Some of the Solutions
To meet the HUSSC nutrition standards, the district increased its use of whole-grain products, which included developing a whole-grain dough recipe for the base of all bread products. The district also incorporated a greater variety and volume of dark green and orange vegetables into the menu, and increased the use of dried beans. To ensure high-quality and consistent preparation, the district requires all staff members to attend a two-week training course each summer to learn how to prepare and serve menu items, and how to increase participation by educating students about the meals.
Measures of Success
According to school district officials, students have responded positively to healthier menu items, resulting in increased revenue. The more nutritious dishes are prepared with low-fat butter substitutes, spices, and seasonings. The district is setting an example too, as popular recipes have been shared with nutrition directors and administrators in nearby districts.
The district eliminated all deep-fat fryers, transitioning instead to combination ovens—one piece of equipment that efficiently replaces conventional ovens, steamers, and fryers. Staff say this has revolutionized the way they prepare meals. These ovens can bake potatoes, “oven-fry” chicken without oil, and oven-crisp fries simultaneously in less time than it would take to prepare them with conventional equipment. Additionally, the machines are programmable, allowing cafeteria staff more time for hands-on food preparation.
The #1 Lesson Learned
Lamar County administrators agree that buy-in from all staff—including principals, health coordinators, child nutrition directors, and superintendents—has been critical to the district’s success. With all district staff involved and engaged in the process, everyone is held accountable.
Read more "School Food Success Stories" from school districts across the nation.
- Date added:
- Dec 19, 2012
"With childhood obesity — and other health issues and nutrition requirements — increasing in schools, Williamsburg-James City County is focusing on providing nutritious meals to students."More info
"Representatives from National Food Group handed out samples of what could be on next year’s menu. Students sampled beef barbacoa with roasted vegetables, whole grain cheese ravioli with chunky marinara sauce and baked cod filet. Other items were cranberry oatmeal bars and breakfast items oatmeal chocolate vertical bars and berry apple crisp vertical bar."More info
Jessica Donze Black, director of the Pew Kids' Safe & Healthful Foods Project, speaks with Education Week about a bipartisan bill that would provide money for school kitchen upgrades.More info
Jessica Donze Black, project director for Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, is featured in Time magazine article about healthy school lunches.More info
"Recent changes to the federal school lunch program require more fresh fruits and vegetables to be served, but many schools in Iowa and across the country lack the fridge space needed to store large quantities of fresh produce, the Republican lawmaker said."More info
Jessica Donze Black, Pew’s expert on childhood nutrition, issued the following statement on the School Food Modernization Act.More info
"The USDA is updating the existing nutritional food standards set in 1979, which will require all snack foods sold in public schools to meet new health standards."More info
"Marty Tatara has succeeded with 'Six Cent For Child' certification, which will increase federal funding for nutrition in Madison City Schools."More info
"Orange County Public Schools are continuing to offer up a host of different lunch options to students throughout the county, expanding their taste buds through different food choices."More info
"High school students don't need to have access to caffeine on campus. Snacks sold at elementary and middle schools shouldn't have as many calories as those sold at high schools. And maybe schools shouldn't have vending machines or a la carte lunch lines at all."More info
In the absence of a national policy, school snack food standards vary by state. Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project, speaks with The Washington Post about this issue.More info
Jessica Donze Black, director of the Pew's kids' safe and Healthful foods project speaks with the Los Angeles Times about a loophole in the USDA's new competitive foods rules that would allow junk food to be served in school cafeterias.More info