Decorating Plates to Celebrate Healthy Meals

Each year during National School Lunch Week (NSLW), nutrition staff at Spring Independent School District (ISD) in Texas looks for ways to engage students and get them excited about healthy school lunches.

Located just outside of Houston, more than 95% of the district’s 33,500 students participate in the lunch program daily. School nutrition staff is committed to making sure supply chain challenges or staffing shortages have minimal effect on the meals they are serving and they continue to find ways to keep hungry student customers well nourished.

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Students create healthy recipes for Culinary Arts Fair

School nutrition professionals in one rural West Virginia district wanted to do more to educate students about nutrition, recognizing that engaging with students could help the effort to lower obesity rates and improve health. Wyoming County School District‘s Director of Child Nutrition and General Wellness Programs Rhonda Thomas created a student culinary arts fair to encourage a friendly competition for students to create healthy recipes.

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Composting in Virginia School Cafeterias

Students in six Prince William County Public Schools (VA) changed the way they threw out cafeteria trash as part of a pilot composting program started this school year. Instead of one trash can, there are multiple barrels in classrooms and cafeterias for food scraps, milk cartons, recyclable plastics and non-recyclables. 

Scraps of food are collected and recycled after lunch every day with a goal to reduce Prince William County’s environmental impact.

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Dairy Princesses Visit New York Schools

The princesses visiting New York schools aren’t wearing crowns or looking for glass slippers. The fairy tale for these “dairy princesses” is the story of farmers, cows, milk and farm life.

Shelby Benjamin, one of more than two dozen dairy princesses in New York, teaches students about the dairy industry as part of her job with the American Dairy Association North East. Her journey started as a teenager, showing a cow at a local county fair and realizing there was so much more to the dairy industry to learn and share.

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Culinary Students Bake Rolls to Overcome Shortage

Supply chain shortages have been impacting schools across the country. According to a recent survey by the School Nutrition Association, 97% of school meal program directors nationwide were concerned about continued pandemic supply chain disruptions and 90% were worried about staff shortages.  

In Virginia, instead of looking at the supply chain shortages as a negative, the Louisa County School District turned it into a positive and a lesson.  At Louisa County High School, located about two and half hours southwest of Washington, D.C., the food services program was only able to get white bread through their vendors and could not get any rolls.

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Benefits of Breakfast Available For All Students

While school meal service might look very different this year, the importance of providing easily accessible and healthy school meals hasn’t changed. Now more than ever, families can count on schools to nourish students to start the school day, with breakfast provided free for all students through special USDA waivers this school year. National School Breakfast Week (NSBW) offers an opportunity to focus on the benefits seen from providing equal access to free meals, with many school districts seeing an increase in breakfast participation.

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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…