Survey Prompts Major Updates to Nutrition Program

Wazyata Public Schools (MN) nutrition professionals spent the summer of 2018 overhauling the nutrition program in the district’s Culinary Express. They created new school menus, with delicious scratch-made recipes, including homemade chicken noodle and chicken wild rice soup, vegetable lo mein, spicy black beaned burgers, baked ziti and pork carnitas burrito bowls. 

While revamping the Culinary Express website, school nutrition staff worked with a local food hub and marketing company to help provide more opportunities for nutrition education, including new graphics, cafeteria posters, food mascots, etc. The innovative changes to their school nutrition program were prompted by survey feedback from parents and staff.

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October Brings Local Taste To Washington Schools

A perfect kick-off to Farm to School Month, Highline Public Schools (WA) celebrated Taste Washington Day on Wednesday, October 3, featuring locally sourced foods on the menu and cafeteria visits from farmers and producers across the state.

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Guests for “Taste of Washington Day” included local farmers, local celebrities, nutrition professionals from Highline Public Schools and representatives from the Washington Department of Agriculture, Washington School Nutrition Association and FEEST Seattle.

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IN School Cafeteria Transforms Into Blizzard Beach Party

The food service professionals at New Castle Community School Corporation (Indiana) are serving up nutritious school meals with creativity and personality. Whether dressing up in crazy costumes or decorating the cafeteria, school nutrition professionals are providing an exciting environment to welcome students.

On January 26, students celebrated the Blizzard Beach Party to have some summer sun during the coldest month of the year! New Castle Director of Food Service Dee Orick said the winter bash luau idea started as a way to help get students through the dog days of winter. Schools menu items are often decorated to go along with the theme of the day. For the Blizzard Beach Party, cheese and turkey croissant sandwiches are turned into crabs and fruit cups get an island update, complete with tiny cocktail umbrellas. There are four separate lines of meals in the cafeteria, which never run the same options.

“Years ago, the high school had four lines with all the same items,” said Orick. “We’ve changed that to include much more fun and exciting menu items, like build-your-own sandwich, a Mexican line, home-style cooking lines and pizzas made-from-scratch. The high school kind of serves as a guinea pig to see what will be successful elsewhere in the district. They help give us new ideas for lines and help expose the younger children in the district to more exciting menu items, in some cases food they’ve never tried outside of school.”

The nutrition department is no stranger to events, according to Orick, who said they have a calendar filled with creative events, holidays and sports-related celebrations throughout the year, including the Apple Crunch and a big Halloween bash.

Orick, also vice president of the Indiana School Nutrition Association, said the food service staff go above and beyond when it comes to decorating the cafeterias and dressing up on special days.

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New Castle Schools (IN) food service professionals dress in their best luau gear for the 2018 Blizzard Beach Party fun!

“My staff is very great at getting creative,” she said. “They often take trips after Halloween to the costume store and stock up on amazing outfits that they’ll use throughout the year. They really get into it and it makes the students excited about themed days as well.”

For Thanksgiving, her staff prepares a traditional holiday dinner with all the fixings, just in case one of their students won’t have that at home. Last year, members of the kitchen staff dressed as Native Americans and Pilgrims, again bringing smiles to the faces of the children they feed.

For School Lunch Hero Day, it’s not uncommon to see a food service employee swoop by in their cape, said Orick. They are a staff that truly likes to have fun, making healthy meals for the students of New Castle.

 

Specialty Equipment Helps CA District Serve 24,000 School Meals A Day

Students in Modesto City Schools (MCS) in California started classes last week, but school nutrition professionals had been preparing for the new school year all summer long. Something exciting was in store, helping to improve the more than 24,000 meals made daily – new equipment for their specialized bakery.  Think about 24,000 meals in terms of a restaurant – what kind of facility is needed to produce that many meals every day? Read more…

Cafeteria On Wheels Feeds Even More Students Over Summer Months

After a successful pilot program last year, Alachua County Schools in Gainesville (FL) has added a food truck to their free summer meals program, bringing delicious options to neighborhoods in need over the summer months.

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A new food truck in Alachua County Schools (FL) is traveling to feed more students over the summer months. Staff is preparing to use the “On Point Food Truck” at the district’s high schools in the fall.

The three additional neighborhood stops will serve about 150 children who would otherwise go without these meals over the summer. All children under 18 years old are eligible for free summer lunch, but even adults have shown an interest and are buying from the enticing food truck as well, said Rowe. Read more…