The Food Service Department is proud of the role it plays in providing students with a nutritious meal each school day. Our goal is to provide students with a well balanced meal, which is appealing to students’ tastes, and meets the guidelines of the National School Lunch Program.
The USDA meal patterns require five components must be offered to qualify for a reimbursable meal. A Meat/Protein, Fruit, Vegetable, Bread, and Milk must be offered in specific quantities. These meal patterns are designed to provide 1/3 of the recommended dietary allowances for key nutrients. The menu must also provide no more than 30% of the total calories from fat, and no more than 10% from saturated fat over the course of a week.
Harvest of the Month
Our “Harvest of the Month” program promotes different fruits, vegetables, herbs and legumes throughout the school year. We provide fun facts and nutrition information and will serve it at least one day during that month.
In order to encourage students to eat a complete lunch, we offer two entrée choices for Kindergarten through 4th grade, and more choices at the Middle and High Schools. Every entrée we offer is available as a meal when bundled with a fruit choice, vegetable choice, milk and bread. Since we began to offer our Chef developed premium entrees as a meal, we experience more students purchasing meals rather than buying the entree a la carte.
We feature a self serve fruit and vegetable bar to expose students to a variety of fruits and vegetables each day. By providing two vegetables, a fresh fruit and a canned fruit, the students can pick their favorite items, instead of passing up one choice offered on a menu because they don’t care for it. We have introduced the students to a greater variety of fresh fruit including Kiwi, Watermelon and Honeydew, just to name a few. This year we are now offering a whole grain white bread, whole grain buns, and wheat bread.
French Fries (which are considered a vegetable) are baked rather than deep fried. We do not use deep fat fryers to prepare any foods in the lunch program.
Desserts are considered a treat with lunch, and have been limited to twice per week on the menu. Other changes we have made include using more reduced calorie dressings, light mayonnaise and offering 1% in place of 2% milk.
USDA Donated Foods
Part of the funding of the National School Lunch Program comes to the district in the form of USDA donated commodities. As students tastes have changed, the types of foods offered as commodities have changed with them. Rather than receive whole Turkeys as in the past, we now receive processed items such as Turkey Mini Corn Dogs, Chicken Nuggets, Fully Cooked Hamburger Patties, Pizza Dippers and Taco Meat. These items are prepared using ingredients that help lower the fat and salt they contain. For example, cheese products are made with part skim milk, and beef products have added soy or turkey. We also receive much of our canned fruit and frozen vegetables as commodities.
In order to meet the nutritional requirements of our meals, we take specific steps when preparing food items. Ground Beef is rinsed after cooking to skim off fat, and ground turkey is added when possible. All products that are typically deep fried, (chicken nuggets, chicken patties, popcorn chicken) are baked in ovens with no oil added. We do not add butter or margarine when cooking vegetables and they are steamed when possible. Salt is no longer added as a seasoning, and we use pepper or other herbs as flavor enhancements.
A la Carte
A la Carte items are snacks that students may purchase that are not part of a meal. They are offered to Middle and High School students only, and are intended to compliment a meal rather than replace it. For that reason, we follow the USDA price guidelines so that a meal is always a better value than purchasing items separately. All A la Carte items we sell are approved by USDA guidelines, although we have limited high fat A la Carte items, and introduced more baked and lo-fat snack items in their place during the past two years. We have reduced the size of our fresh baked cookie that is sold at the High School, and made other changes as requested by the school district’s Wellness Committee.
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We have included a Nutritional Analysis of your favorite menu items. Students and parents can use this data to help make the best choices for a well balanced diet.
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Taher’s Food4Life(SM) Initiative
We recognize that good nutrition and physical activity are essential for the long-term health of children. Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions; Type 2 diabetes and other childhood-onset of adult diseases also have reached alarming proportions.
Our commitment to be part of a solution led us to our Food 4 Life initiative, which has been our guiding principle at Taher Inc. since 2006 and includes:
- introducing children to new and different foods
- focusing on more scratch cooking, using less processed foods
- increasing the offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes
- utilizing more locally grown products when available
- providing additional opportunities for development of our cooks by working with our regional and corporate chefs, and through chef training seminars
We have eliminated all trans fats in products we purchase, and use low sodium bases in our recipes. We have specified milk without Bovine Growth Hormone, BGH.
Our menu standards follow the White House Initiative, and the HealthierUS School Challenge.
This year we have expanded our Farm to School Program to 17 different fruits and vegetables grown locally when in season. Students will be able to see the name of the farm and location when these wonderful farm fresh items are served.
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In the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, the U.S. Congress established a new requirement for all local agencies with a federally funded National School Lunch Program. All local school districts are required to develop and implement wellness policies by the start of the 2006-07 school year. In response to this requirement, the Your School District formed a committee made up of parents, administration, faculty, and students to develop a wellness policy.
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- Breakfast is now served at all schools
- Fruit and Vegetable Bar
- Serving white whole grain bread
- More scratch cooking
- Low Sodium bases for gravies and sauces
- Milk choices are Skim, 1% white and Skim Chocolate
- Desserts are ala carte prices
- No additional salt available to students as a condiment at elementary and middle schools
- Promoting My Plate Nutrition Tips and Menu board
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