Winter Break Isn’t a Break from Meals in Many Schools

The holidays can be a hard time for families already struggling to make ends meet. The threat of children going hungry increases when school is out and guaranteed nutritious school meals are no longer available. While many school districts must close food service operations, an increasing number of programs are making arrangements to provide food pick-up or meal service during the break this year to support their communities.

To ensure students are well-fed during the Winter Break, Madison School District Food & Nutrition Services (AZ) has a Free Bulk Food Box Program for children 18 years and younger. Informational fliers in English and Spanish encourage families to sign up in advance for food boxes pick up on December 23.

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Farm to School Comes to Life at Dover-Eyota Schools

While many schools have adopted a Farm to School program, Dover-Eyota Public Schools (MN) has gone above and beyond to offer their students fresh, locally-sourced school meals. Using apples from their own school orchard to make homemade applesauce and sourcing beef from a local farm to offer freshly-made hot dogs and hamburgers are examples of how they celebrated Farm to School Month, which wrapped up last week.

A Dover-Eyota PS school lunch: buns are from St. Charles Bakery in St. Charles; the hamburger is from Goldenrust Farm in Eyota, whose children attend Dover-Eyota schools; the tomatoes are from Blattner Farm (Produce Plus), whose children went to Dover-Eyota as well; the lettuce is from Revol Greens in Owatonna – making this entrée 100 percent local! 
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Curbside Lunch Pick-up Doesn’t Stop National School Lunch Week Celebrations

National School Lunch Week (NSLW) looks pretty different this year for Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools (NC) as K-5 students won’t be starting in-school classes until October 19. The district has been running a curbside meal pick-up operation to coincide with distance learning, but they haven’t given up serving nutritious and delicious meals for their students! ECPPS is offering prepared meals that are shelf stable or heat-and-eat selections for middle and high schoolers.

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Lunch Participation Jumps When Students Learn About Local Ingredients

One school district increased school meal participation by educating their students about the local, healthy options they were already sourcing from local Kentucky Farmers. IMG-7308Fayette County Public School’s (FCPS) Nutrition Department (KY) worked closely with their Farm to School program to coordinate the Fayette Farm to School Challenge, a weeklong program filled with taste tests, cafeteria guests and educational programs to help increase student participation.

The Fayette Farm to School program worked to promote the educational aspect to families, students and staff, while the FCPS School Nutrition Department procured and prepared local menu items for the week. They featured recipes including cheesy chicken étouffée, an original created by District Chef Todd Gorrell, containing Kentucky sweet potatoes and butternut squash. The week also showcased how kid-favorites, like hot dogs and Sloppy Joe’s, could be made healthier, using locally-sourced produce and local farm-raised meats. Read more…

Bilingual Nutrition Director Helps Better Serve Latino Population in CA Schools

Connecting with students and truly understanding the community you serve is paramount to a successful school meal program. Looking to serve the school district’s large population of latino children, Keppel Union School District (CA) Keppel USD has found ways to incorporate common latino dishes and flavors into their school menus. 

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 2.02.17 PM Director of Child Nutrition Services Lilian Arreguin, the district’s first bilingual director, combines a knowledge of child nutrition with her personal cultural experiences to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of her students. Students are offered a variety of familiar flavors and international foods, mixing local foods with Mexican and Asian cuisine.

“The fact that I’m bilingual and first generation Mexican American is a bonus in an ever-changing diverse population,” said Arreguin. “I relate to the student population in this area since I grew up eating the items the students now really enjoy. I am able to teach, translate and have better communication with our bilingual students, staff and parents. I attend some community meetings and I’m able to discuss with our parents the difference between having lunch with child nutrition versus having lunch at a fast food place.” Read more…

Fresh School Garden Produce Inspires New Menu Options

As the harvest season comes to an end and Farm to School Month approaches, Southampton Union Free School District (NY) school gardens final crops are producing  various squash and pumpkins for school meals. To ensure her students have access to healthy, fresh ingredients and nutritious new menu options throughout the whole school year, district Food Service Director Regan Kiembock works with a number of local farmers as well.21192762_1863359707014577_4104292490504018530_n

The district’s impressive garden is organized by the Southampton School Garden Committee and is funded through a number of grants. Since produce is regularly used in school meals, funds are set aside from the school lunch fund to buy supplies as needed. Nearby Cornell Cooperative Extension also helps support the gardening efforts with free seeds in the spring. Items grown in the school garden include a wide variety of lettuce, along with asparagus, onions, squashes, pumpkins, raspberries, kale, peas, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, beets and carrots. Read more…

Parents Take A Peek Inside The Cafeteria

A great way for parents to learn about their child’s school nutrition program firsthand, National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day started in 2011 by Kiwi Magazine together with School Nutrition Association. Typically during National School Lunch Week in October, schools invite parents to eat lunch with their children and see what has changed over the years.   Read more…