Whole Grain Rich Options Abound in Schools

Whole grains are on school lunch trays to stay, according to School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) recent survey of school meal programs nationwide. When USDA regulations pertaining to whole grains in school meals took effect to add more menu planning flexibilities in July, some were worried about what this would mean for the whole grains in cafeterias across the country. However,  over 90 percent responding to the survey indicated that their school districts will exceed federal whole grain requirements.

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‘Build Your Own’ Options Offer More Scratch Made School Meal Choices

Following trends in popular restaurants and cafes, Hopewell Valley Regional School District  (NJ) has crafted an exciting and unique menu for students across the district’s six schools. Since scratch cooking was introduced into the food service department about five years ago, the menu selection has continued to grow each year, according to Food Service Director Denise Menza.

Grab N Go
Typical Grab n’ Go section featuring school lunch options in Hopewell Valley Regional School District (NJ).

The district adheres to the USDA guidelines while utilizing ingredients in creative ways, helping to entice students and staff with healthy and delicious meal offerings. Read more…

Taking Cues from Restaurants, Schools Offer Build-Your-Own Lunch Options

As students enter middle school and high school these days, their pallets are typically more sophisticated – they’re looking for bold flavors with their own favorite ingredients.

To mimic the success and appeal of made-to-order restaurants like Quizno’s, Panera and Chipotle, school nutrition professionals have taken a healthy approach to offering customizable school meals. In Rochester, NY, area schools have created themes and options for “make your own” bars where students can choose from a variety of  healthy options. Read more…

School Lunch Pros Take Flavor to the Next Level

Atlanta (GA) was the host city of this year’s School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference. It was very exciting to hear about so many great things going on in cafeterias in the state and across the country.

During an educational session titled “Shake It Up School Nutrition,” GA Department of Education guest speakers Sarah Combs and Paige Holland spoke about the challenges that face school nutrition professionals when it comes to providing healthier foods that still appeal to children. Read more…

Fresh, Bold Flavors for Students

San Antonio, Texas, is well known for its trendy food scene, with authentic Tex-Mex flavors at the heart of many local restaurant menus. For school meals to make the grade at Southside Independent School District, recipes must mimic the freshness and flavors students are accustomed to at home and in the community, but still meet national nutrition requirements for school meals.

Prepared from scratch to offer variety and a unique blend of flavors, school lunch entrees include Enchiladas Verdes, Pollo Elegante, “Mi Pueblo Taco Salad” and Fideos Casera. The district’s child nutrition department is constantly reformulating recipes based on feedback from students, parents and school staff. They focus on using herbs and spices authentic to traditional recipes – comino, fresh garlic, chili ancho, fresh onion, jalapenos, bell peppers, serrano, cilantro, fresh tomato, fresh basil and fresh parsley are common ingredients in the school kitchen. Read more…