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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

FSD Resources