Washington school district sets new nutrition standards

Food Services Director Patrick Garmong is trimming additives and adding fresh produce.

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — You won't find any mystery meat, fruit in syrup or giant cookies in Ellensburg school lunches, thanks to new nutrition guidelines carried out by Ellensburg School District Food Services Director Patrick Garmong, who took over the position in August.

Garmong gave a presentation to the Ellensburg School Board last week about this year’s program, and the opportunities and challenges for the next five to six years.

"My initial goal was, let's get this the healthiest, most amazing menu possible for these students," Garmong said.

Serving appealing and healthy meals isn't about making adults feel good about what's on the tray.

"It's not nutrition until it's been consumed," Garmong said.

For some students, school lunch "might be the only meal they get all day," he said. "If it goes in the trash, it's not worth it," he said.

Ellensburg school meals will contain less sodium, sugar and fat, and more fresh vegetables and fruit. Many of these changes are mandated by Congress as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Last year, lawmakers introduced the Sensible School Lunch Act, which would provide flexibility in implementing Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 standards to allow students to adjust to healthier menus and keep food service programs financial stable. The bill has been treading water in Congress for almost a year.

Food service update

Garmong has a long food service and culinary science career. A classically trained chef, he's worked in the private and public sector and studied at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, earning his bachelor's degree at Central Washington University.

School food is prepared in a central kitchen at Ellensburg High School and serves EHS and Morgan Middle School annex students, including an a la carte program where students can buy individual items. EHS also

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