Nutritional Services and School Meals
Nutritional services primarily provide American school-aged children with the most healthy and top quality meals possible in the local school setting. The motto of these nutritional programs is "Serving Healthy Meals for Healthy Minds". As a part of the federal school nutrition programs, the meals served adhere to the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, all menus are planned utilizing the food based approach complying with the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.
According to many research studies, eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast has a very beneficial effect on a student's overall performance at school. Those children who routinely eat a good breakfast have higher levels of energy as well as the ability to learn much better than their peers who do not normally have breakfast. For example, a Harvard University research study found that students who ate breakfast daily were much more attentive overall, received higher grades in mathematics, and displayed far fewer emotional or behavioral problems.
The Goal of Nutritional Services
Menu items contain the appropriate food components, calorie counts and key nutrients needed to support these new dietary guidelines. Recipes and products utilized for school nutritional programs taste great. All meals are low in trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol as well as sodium. Food options include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in portion sizes appropriate for each age group of students.
The aim of nutritional services is to support overall student learning outcomes by committing to providing healthy, delicious tasting meals to all school aged students in every U.S. state. Nutritional services staff members are well trained to give excellent customer service to students in safe, clean cafeteria, and classroom environments.
School Meal Programs Offered by Nutritional Services
Nutritional services are offered in either school classrooms or cafeterias and include the following programs:
- "Breakfast in the Classroom": Allows all school-aged children the opportunity to eat a nutritious meal before facing the day in the classroom.
- "Chef Approved Entrees": Delicious, healthy entrees made from "scratch," using recipes endorsed and approved by professional chefs who work closely with nutritional services to train their food staff.
- "Farm to School": Whenever in season and available, local produce is purchased from farmers and used to prepare meals. In addition, school garden produce is utilized, if at all possible.
- Special Diets: Catering to individual students for health, allergic, and religious reasons.
- After School Snacks: Offered to all students, free of charge.
- Bag Lunches: Available to take on school field trips.
- Annual Food Tasting Events for Staff and Students
- Promotional Meals: Celebrating National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.
- Nutrition Advisory Council
Nutritional Services Menu Options
- Almost daily servings of whole grain baked goods (whole grain rolls, buns, pizza dough, pasta, and breakfast items).
- Daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- At minimum, two times per week, servings of leafy, dark green vegetables as well as orange and red vegetables are provided.
- Legumes and beans are served a minimum of one time per week.
- Whenever available, and in season, local farm produce is used as much as possible.
- Almost daily, vegetarian options are available.
- Lower fat dressings, spreads, and cheeses are available in appropriate sized portions.
- Only one percent or skim milk is served.
- Breakfast cereals served are high in fiber and lower in sugar content (bran flakes, oatmeal, etc.).
Nutritional Services Menu Avoidance
- Menu items or products that have high sugar content.
- Fried foods of any kind, such as French fries.
- Desserts are not served, except on special occasions or holidays.
- No menu items/products are served that contain added trans fats.