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…

Recipe Contests Highlight CA District’s National School Lunch Week

School districts across the country are gearing up to celebrate this year’s music-themed National School Lunch Week (NSLW), “School Lunch: What’s On Your Playlist?” from October 14-18.  Schools like Capistrano Union School District (CA) are busy planning new recipe launches and highlighting some favorite school lunches during the week. The Food Service Department will share photos of their daily special entrée and daily vegan special entrée on their popular Instagram account, CapoFood. CUSD will also be creating morning announcements to hype up lunch every day during NSLW, complete with music, menu highlights and dancing.

“We are hoping that this week will put a bright spotlight on our program and reach some new students, parents and staff that might not be aware of all our program has to offer,” said Nutrition Specialist Shannon Illingworth. “We are so proud of the variety in our menu, especially our vegan choices.” 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…

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…

New Year, Nu-trition: Schools Support Healthy Eating Resolutions

When looking to make healthier eating choices, it’s best to go right to the experts for tips! The same can be said for getting school-aged children to eat healthier in the New Year. The tried-and-true techniques school nutrition professionals have successfully used in the school cafeteria to get students to consume healthier food options can easily translate to good habits at home. Read more…