Fresh produce, nice presentation encourage healthy choices in school meals

Colorado district fights against parent complaints of unhealthy food.

Feb. 22—At the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colo., healthy school lunches that taste good and appeal to students are of prime importance to many parents who have shown up at school board meetings, contacted nutrition experts and requested a formal audit of the nutritional value of school meals.

Complaints range from the lack of gluten-free and vegetarian items to a desire for more scratch cooking and farm-to-school produce options and a lack of student interest in picking healthy options over "just tasty" selections.

"We have basically 45 restaurants that we're trying to keep consistent and high-quality on a daily basis," said Craig Schneider, director of PSD Child Nutrition told the local Channel 9 news.

While maintaining those "restaurants" is a big job in itself, Schneider said the key to maintaining a healthy eating environment for students starts before produce and ingredients even reach the school cafeteria. PSD receives about 600 cases of fresh produce every week worth about $10,000.

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After listening to students, the center’s halal options were moved from a self-serve line to a hot entree station. The dining team also updated its signage to better indicate which meals are halal.

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Dining staff say the truck was introduced to give students more dining options as well as reaffirm the school’s commitment to sustainability.

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