Have you ever wished school meal programs offered higher quality, more nutritious food? Have you every been concerned about the rising obesity rates among America's youth? The team of District 6 Professionals share both your dreams and concerns about improving the nutrition program and helping students develop lifelong healthy lifestyles.
The Nutrition Services Department has set their sights on improving the nutritional quality of school meals.
We are calling this effort the "School Food Renaissance." It's a return to our roots of offering-freshly prepared meals made by our own staff. Years ago most school meals were prepared from scratch using raw, wholesome ingredients. Over the years, it became popular to rely on processed, pre-cooked foods. Along with these foods came increased amounts of sodium, artificial flavoring, colors and preservatives, and ingredients lists a mile long!
It's time for a renaissance: to return to our roots and once again use good, wholesome ingredients to prepare meals for our students.
Here are our Steps to Better Food:
1) Return to Scratch Cooking
- Eliminate Highly-Processed Foods
Produce all main entrees from scratch in a central production kitchen for distribution to individual sites.
Invest in a Central Production Facility using existing warehouse space.
Eliminate Highly-Processed Foods from all District 6 menus by January 2013.
2) Improve Ingredients
To craft the perfect entrees, every effort will be made to use raw ingredients that are natural or whole. Free school meals of highly processed foods, artificial dyes and preservatives, hydrogenated oils, added sugars, growth hormone and antibiotics.
The current menus will be simplified so that time and effort can be focused on fewer items in order to improve overall quality. Lunch Entree Choices: 2 at Elementary sites, 4 at Middle School sites, and 5 at High School sites.
Each school will be equipped with at least one salad bar so students can customize their meal with foods they enjoy.
Salad bars will offer local produce when possible.
5) Flavored Milk
District 6 students will consume 18 tons of added sugar just from drinking chocolate milk! Milk offers great nutritional benefits, but flavored milk should be offered in moderation.
Chocolate milk will only be offered at lunch time for elementary students two or three times per week during the 2011-2012 school year. This restriction will expand to secondary schools during later years.
6) Increase Breakfast Participation
Eating breakfast is known to increase a child's capacity to learn, decrease behavior problems and decrease visits to the school nurse.
The Nutrition Department will seek to increase student's opportunities to eat breakfast through expanding breakfast programs.
7) Staffing Investment
Provide staff with additional training in the Culinary Arts, time management and food safety.
Develop new job descriptions to better reflect job duties along with a plan to develop career pathways and compensation plans.
Invest in the look of staff by outfitting them in chef coats to better convey to stakeholders their professional status.
8) Communication Plan
It's time to get the word out about our commitment to improving the food we serve our students.
Seek input from students, parents, staff and other community members.