Healthy Eating Theme for School’s Nutrition Fair

Parents get a chance to sample the district's vegetarian, organic line.


In the nearly 156,000-student Gwinnett County Public Schools, a nutrition fair was held last month to increase parent awareness about the district’s foodservice program.  “When healthy eating habits are established at an earlier age, our students are less likely to encounter many health issues at a later age,” says Michael McEvoy, Peachtree Ridge High School’s nutrition program manager. “If a family as a whole makes healthy choices, there are many added benefits, including better performance in school.”

The fair not only provided families with information about the district’s nutrition department but also offered free cooking classes where participants learned healthy recipes that could be replicated at home with minimal culinary skill.

In addition, samples of the district’s vegetarian and organic line were available. The menu’s five items—chicken nuggets, corn dogs, grilled burgers, chicken patties and black bean burgers—were introduced in October 2007. All five items have been available at the middle and high schools, but only two have been offered at the elementary schools. However, due to the success and popularity of the items—nearly 143,000 chicken patties were served between October and March —all five items will be offered in the elementary schools next school year.

“Today’s students are more concerned, savvy and conscious about what they’re eating,” says Karen Crawford, nutrition education coordinator for the district. “Students are making sophisticated choices and nutrition education is getting to them, and they’re learning about what they are consuming.” Part of that nutrition education is marketing these healthier choices at the point of service, on bulletin boards throughout the schools and at the nutrition fair. 

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
ranch dressing chicken fingers

While salad bars are often the first place K-12 operators look to incorporate more fresh produce, few go as far as making their own salad dressings. But last fall, in a continuing effort to transition from prepackaged meals to an all-scratch menu, Mark Augustine, executive chef of culinary and nutrition services for Minneapolis Public Schools, switched to concocting four varieties in-house—ranch, Caesar, Italian and Asian vinaigrette. The move, designed to eliminate artificial ingredients and lower fat and sodium, presented the biggest challenge when it came to ranch dressing, the school-...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

FSD Resources