Brain foods

In the Tulsa (Okla.) Public School District, special menus were created to enhance the students' brain function during testing weeks. More fresh fruit and whole-grain options were added to the menus, as well as those options that are high in antioxidants. During the program, breakfast participation increased 4.3%.

At A Glance: Tulsa Public Schools

•Nearly 43,000 students in 88 schools

•42,150 reimbursable meals served daily

•74% free and reduced

•Breakfast participation increased 4.3% during testing weeks, April 10-25, when Brain Foods were served

•60 elementary schools served Brain Foods at both breakfast and lunch

•Brain Foods menus increased offerings of fresh fruits and protein while decreasing or eliminating high sugar items

 

Since 2002, when No Child Left Behind was signed into law, the importance of testing in schools has increased as administrators try to meet academic standards to receive federal funding. In the nearly 43,000-student Tulsa (Okla.) Public Schools, Child Nutrition Services teamed up with the district’s brain-based learning teacher—a teacher who develops educational techniques based on current psychological and neurological research in order to provide a classroom environment that is conducive to learning—to offer foods during testing weeks that, it is hoped, would increase students’ memory and attention, enhance learning and, ultimately, increase test scores.

Concentration: “This whole thing started when an administrator asked if we could serve grapes at breakfast during testing week because research had shown grapes helped a lot with things like concentration,” says Lisa Griffin, the district’s child nutrition coordinator at this Sodexo account. From this simple question, a new program was launched: Brain Foods. “I asked him if there were any other foods that the research had found to be helpful, and he said to contact Lynn McKenney. I did and that’s how Brain Foods started.”

For her part, McKenney, pathwise specialist—a teacher who supports new teachers in their first two years in education—and the district’s brain-based learning teacher, says: “We didn’t want our foods to fight against efforts the children were making in the classroom. We know that food and nutrition builds brain function, so we wanted to do something to complement what the teachers were doing in the classrooms with nutrition.”

During testing weeks, foods that were proven by research to increase the brain’s cognition, memory and alertness were substituted for the regular offerings. “Most of the foods we wanted were high in antioxidants and also high in fiber, so that there is a slow release of glucose and not a fast one that causes the blood sugars to vary,” Griffin says. “We also wanted foods high in protein, which is good for keeping the blood sugars level so students can perform well.”

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

Industry News & Opinion

Panera Bread Co. announced today that it intends to buy the Au Bon Pain brand as a way of opening more bakery-cafes in colleges, healthcare facilities, office buildings, travel centers and malls.

Au Bon Pain, which was Panera’s sole business under an earlier incarnation of the company, consists of 304 bakery-cafes. Several units are located in noncommercial venues.

Panera owns or holds the franchise rights to about 2,050 restaurants, few of which are located outside of strip malls.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Immediately after the deal was...

FSD Resources