Menus—how they are created
The development of menus is based on two main principles:
- Offering foods children want to eat.
- Offering foods that contribute to a balanced, nutritious diet.
Offering Foods Children Want to Eat
If children do not participate in the school lunch program, many of them just don't eat. Our role is to provide the nutrition (nourishment) children need so they are indeed “nourished” and prepared to learn when they return to the classroom.
We monitor the participation of lunches we serve. We know if we offer “tuna noodle casserole,” no matter how delicious it is, participation at lunch goes down. We know when we offer “chicken nuggets,” participation goes up.
Kids eat familiar foods. This is one reason why you will note repetition in menus. We know students like foods they can grab with their hands and eat quickly (pizza, burgers, nuggets). Variety is also why we offer several hot and cold meal choices each day and why we will continue to introduce new items like fresh salads and side dishes.
Side dishes are one area we work to offer variety and good nutrition. We offer a beautiful fruit and vegetable bar with a wide variety of fresh foods. We compliment each meal with 1% lactose-free, soy, 1% white, or fat-free chocolate milk.
We care a great deal about the health and nutritional needs of students we serve. We also recognize that if we don't offer foods they want, they will not eat.Offering Food that Contribute to a Balanced, Nutritious Diet
We are required, as part of the National School Lunch Program, to provide meals that:
· offer less than 30% of their calories from fat,
· offer less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, and
· meet goals based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in regard to meeting recommended quantities of nutrients (including protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C).
Our menus are nutritionally analyzed to make sure we are meeting these standards. In meeting these standards, you will note we offer a beautiful fresh food bar at each school; bake rather than deep-fry foods; and serve whole-grains.
We offer a variety of fresh and healthy foods to compliment each meal. However, we need your help and the help of the school community to set the example and communicate the message that good nutrition means taking and eating all the components of a well-planned meal.
Healthy, fit, well-nourished children can learn—those who are not, cannot.