Guidelines and Procedures for Better Nutrition in Our Breakfast and Lunch Programs
(Recognized by the superintendent and school board)
The mission of the LaConner School District Food Service Program is to provide nutritious meals each day that prepare children for learning, while at the same time promoting nutritional education for life long healthful living.
At the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year the Superintendent, Food Services Manager and Staff met to design and implement a new plan for increased nutrition in the school breakfast and lunch program and to add an educational outreach component from food services out into the rest of the campus.
This plan would coincide with the 2006 state and federal mandate to implement a wellness policy within all school districts. Our goal became to identify a few menu changes, a few deletions of non-nutritious foods and additions of super nutritious foods to the program that could be acted on over a period of three years. We would also create and implement some lesson plans for third and fourth grade nutrition requirements.
Our philosophy includes the idea that a nutritious meal is a successful meal and will be used often if it is also a well like meal.
The First Seven Guidelines Implemented 2004-2005
We make all of our own salad dressings from scratch using canola or olive oil, with the exception of the low fat low calorie commodity mayonnaise we use in our ranch dressing recipe. This will cut sodium, sugar and preservative amounts in our menus.
We have eliminated processed cheese foods from all of our recipes and menus. This means no American cheese slices. We decline all commodity processed cheese foods. This removes preservatives, salt and trans fats.
We may refuse some super processed foods from commodities that are heavy on preservatives, or are what we refer to as “County Fair” foods, like corn dogs and hot dogs and chicken nuggets. We do order these items for special play days for elementary grades.
We are attempting to limit the amount of nitrate and nitrite preserved meats we serve. This is a difficult step and will be phased in as new products are out on the market. There have been studies that show a carcinogenic link with these meat preservatives.
We use organic salad greens on our salad bar and constantly strive to increase vegetables, fruits, meats and dairy choices on the salad bar. We promote the salad bar for it’s raw foods.
Our menu plan by week always includes a minimum of three fresh raw fruits and two fresh raw vegetables, organic when possible, and attempts to limit and eventually eliminate canned vegetable and fruits all together because of their limited nutritional value.
We use only canola oil, olive oil, and butter in our recipes and menus, no shortening or lard, or other hydrogenated oils, and try to keep them out of all frozen, pre-made foods we purchase or receive from commodities. In our soups and sauces that are roux based we use half butter/half olive oil for the fat.
Guidelines Implemented 2005-2006
We are phasing out all white flour pastas and have found multi grain or whole wheat replacements for lasagna, spaghetti and fettuccine.
We are purchasing only unsweetened applesauce avoiding the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used to sweeten this product.
We are going to a better grade of peanut butter not containing HFCS and no hydrogenated oils.
We are using multi or whole grain breads and buns when purchasing, we make our own multi grain French bread and rolls.
Guidelines Implemented 2006-2007
We are putting out a “fruit bowl” consisting of three fresh fruits several times a week for middle and high school lunch in addition to any fruit on the menu. This gives extra nutrition and calories for those who need it.
In the past the middle and high school students have had the choice of the main lunch or the salad bar. This year we are opening up the salad bar to all students in addition to the hot lunch. (We have found that they are eating more vegetables, fruit, and our “seconds” line is shorter because the students are eating a more varied meal.)
We are offering an all-fruit juice option along with the milk in the same cold case. We believe it is important to give the students another choice besides or in addition to milk. We have a lot of undiagnosed lactose or milk intolerance potential and would like to alleviate the suffering.
LaConner Culinary Arts Class is visiting the Elementary Lunch Room occasionally to engage the young eaters in lively conversation about the food they are eating, encouraging them to eat more and understand a bit about nutrition.
Food Service Staff have created a two day, one hour a day lesson plan to use in the third or fourth grade that teaches nutritional information including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, encourages eating a varied diet, and ends with the students creating a lunch menu for a day that all students in the district will eat. The students love this lesson and get a lot of satisfaction out of having their menu made up for everyone.
In 2008 our school website began to include a school food services page which includes the lunch menu for the current month, as well as any important information parents and community should know about. This has enabled the food services staff to include more nutritional information and insights into what students are eating on campus, even a recipe or two and some inspiration.
How To Get Started
We at LaConner School District Food Services realize that none of the above could have happened without the progressive nutritional views of our school board which recognizes that the lunch we serve here is many times the best or only meal some students receive each day and has supported our efforts through this process.
Throughout OSPI there is the concept that, although our School Child Nutrition Programs are not for profit but to feed students, we should be cutting costs as a priority over what is sometimes recognized as good nutrition – a subject where many entrenched and trendy ideas prevail and are promoted by giant food manufacturers. This is slowly changing and with your awareness and desire to act it will occur faster. We are at the forefront of a big change already. You can check out other school districts in California, Montana, and Minnesota for examples of school districts willing to work with a realistic budget for real food.
We started with small “in kitchen” changes and moved out from there. We accepted the negative views to some of the changes (wheat bread instead of white for PBJs, or romaine and mixed greens instead of ice berg lettuce for instance.) and just kept making the changes. We still have the same two complaining students we had three years ago…and the rest of the students trust what we serve.
We suggest developing a relationship with your superintendent and school board and encourage a letter writing campaign to your board outlining some small changes that you know are already feasible. It is also a good idea to make friends with the food service staff and find out what they are already implementing that can be praised while starting the process of change. We also encourage anyone to call the LaConner School District Kitchen staff anytime, except lunch time, for more information.
Submitted by Georgia Johnson, Food Services Manager
360 466 3569