N.H. director reinventes the school lunch menu

New school nutrition director brings fresh approach to city schools.

Feb. 27—Portsmouth schools menus have been featuring menu items such as chicken rice burritos, chef salads, rotini with sauce and crunchy turkey tacos.

The menus contain a lot of homemade foods made practically from scratch. It's a big change from even a year ago, when a grade school student's lunch diet might look something like: pizza, pizza and more pizza.

Superintendent Ed McDonough told Sea Coast Online that it is the result of the hard work of Deb Riso, the new school nutrition director hired at the start of the year. He said there is always an adjustment period for new employees, but Riso hit the ground running and has gradually introduced new lunch menus at all grade levels.

"She's just got a can-do attitude," he said. "She is firm in her beliefs that school lunch needs to be healthy and nutritious."

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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.

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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.

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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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