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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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

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gluten free diet

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A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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