Dietitian critical of school lunch program

April 22–A parent and registered dietitian prompted Butte school trustees on Monday to form a committee to study how to meet new government-approved nutrition guidelines.

Julia Coyne, who has a daughter at Whittier Elementary, has interned in the district and has seen the school lunch program up close, she said.

Coyne stressed that the district can do a better job of providing more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, more protein and less processed food. She is concerned about the district meeting new federal guidelines, due in July, for 2014-15.

“I still feel it’s still below standards,” said Coyne, who sends a cold lunch for her daughter. “Our hot lunch items are leaving kids behind. I do not feel this has changed in three years.”

Superintendent Judy Jonart said she would appreciate having Coyne’s expertise brought to the table.

“If you’re working with me, it would be baby steps,” said Jonart, “but I know we can get through this. You are specially trained and have a lot of cool ideas.”

Coyne, who volunteers one day a week at her daughter’s lunch time, would like to see more parents become involved in their children’s food choices at school.

“If you would promote and encourage more parents to come one day a week,” said Coyne, “I’m sure there would be more than one parent willing to volunteer.”

Trustee John Ries said logistics are tricky because the district would have to conduct a background check on each volunteer.

Furthermore, the increasing cost of food and cost of labor is a constant balancing act, said Jonart.

While the schools offer a healthy salad bar choice, one problem is that students tend to select a side salad if it’s already prepared. Giving students only 15 minutes to eat does not lend itself to labor-intensive salad-making, said Coyne.

As for fresh produce, students often must be steered to try fruit.

“The kids like Pop-Tarts and will grab that before they grab a banana or apple,” said Jonart, adding that the district buys more local produce now.

Students are encouraged to try a new vegetable or fruit at least once a month, plus the recent Butte High Future Chefs competition showcased healthier ingredients in retooled recipes that met current federal guidelines. Those tried-and-true recipes will be made in the elementary schools, said Harrison.

Coyne suggests substituting more beans, for instance, in place of preservative-heavy canned foods or hot dogs, for protein.

“It’s wonderful that you come to talk to us,” trustee Hilary Risser told Coyne. Risser suggested that she conduct a family outreach class to educate parents on healthy food choices.

Jonart said she’ll form a committee that includes Coyne and Mark Harrison, the district’s Central Services Director who oversees the hot lunch program.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
ucmc model

With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
granola bars

Where possible, we make grab-and-go items reimbursable. For example, if we’re serving a fruit and milk smoothie, we let students take a granola bar or other grain component to make it count as a meal.

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

FSD Resources