Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Made-from-Scratch Choices on School Lunch Lines
When was the last time you had lunch at your child’s school? Today would be a great day to visit the school and check out the tasty, nutritious choices available on our lunch lines. The vast majority of our entrees are made from scratch using whole grains and fresh, local vegetables and fruits.
Here are a few of the mouth-watering choices you’ll find - mandarin chicken salad, chicken fajita casserole, baked penne pasta with meatballs, turkey pot roast, and grilled chicken tenders.
The soup choices are equally tempting – tomato basil, potato and sausage, chicken tortilla, and vegetable beef. Every elementary and middle school offers a soup and salad bar three times a week loaded with nutritious legumes (peas or beans), hearty greens, steamed vegetables, and fresh fruits. High schools have at least two salad choices each day. Low-fat and fat-free milk is available at all schools.
Students are offered at least five choices on the daily serving line. The choices for lunch are a fresh or canned fruit, at least two vegetables, a protein item, a whole grain item, and milk. Students can select all items if they wish. They must choose at least three items, and one item must be a fruit or vegetable.
Greenville County Schools moved to preparing healthier school lunches in 2009 and we’ve earned the very prestigious Golden Carrot Award from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for our innovative efforts to provide healthier school lunches for students. Beginning in 2010, food service employees began training with the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College. This 40-hour culinary boot camp includes 20 hours of nutrition and health education and 20 hours of healthy food preparation and kitchen skills. To date, food service staffs at all Greenville County elementary and middle schools have been through training, while high school staffs are scheduled to participate next summer.
Smart Snacks in School – New USDA Guidelines Effective This School Year
The Smart Snacks in School guidelines require schools to follow more stringent standards for à la carte items sold in cafeterias such as pizza, chicken filet sandwiches, chips, cookies, beverages, and other snack-type items.
The Smart Snacks in School standards require that any food sold in schools must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be a whole grain-rich grain product;
- Have as the first ingredient a fruit, vegetable, dairy product, or protein food;
- Be a combination of food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or
- Contain 10% of the daily value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber.
- There are also strict limits on calories, sodium, fat, and sugar.
Elementary school cafeterias sell à la carte items including Nutrigrain and granola bars, animal crackers, and baked chips. At the middle and high school levels, students have à la carte choices including whole grain Pop Tarts and Rice Krispy treats as well as sparkling fruit juice. See beverage and snack à la carte choices by grade level:
PTA school stores and school fundraisers such as Spirit Weeks are also required to meet the criteria outlined in the Smart Snacks in School standards. Smaller portion sizes and healthier choices are required for all food and beverage items that are sold from midnight until 30 minutes after school dismisses. Items sold later than 30 minutes after the normal school day are exempt from the Smart Snacks in School standards.