Program brings local produce to Wash. district

Haverst of the Month program features different local produce each month.

April 30—Whatcom County (Wash.) children can now feast on locally grown kale, apples and blueberries in their school lunches, thanks to an effort called Harvest of the Month that expanded to all of the county's public school districts this school year.

The idea is to introduce an item that can be grown in Whatcom County in one school lunch each month, primarily at the elementary school level. The goal is to be as seasonal as possible so families can find the featured items in stores or at farmers' markets.

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George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is adding an additional $200 in dining dollars to each student's dining plan this fall, The GW Hatchet reports.

The boost comes just a year after the university switched to an open-format dining plan that allows students to spend their entire meal fund off campus; allowed venues include about 90 grocery stores and restaurants.

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This March, past FSD of the Month Randy Lait and his team gave the FoodService Director staff a tour of the operations at North Carolina State University. During our visit, Randy shared how data is affecting their menu creation and menu mix. At the university, they’re encouraging chefs to use big data—and not just gut feelings—to inform menu decisions.

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Stories of students who can’t pay for lunch being given a subpar meal or shamed for their debt have proliferated in recent years, and it’s not an uncommon problem. The SNA’s 2016 School Nutrition Operations Report found that about three-quarters of school districts had an unpaid student meal debt at the end of last school year, an increase from 71% of districts reporting debt in 2014.

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