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 three entrée choices at each elementary, and more choices at the Middle and High Schools. Every entrée we offer is available as a meal when bundled with our fruit and vegetable bar and a milk. We believe it is important to encourage students to eat a balanced meal, so all entrees are available as meals to all students.
At each school we offer a self serve fruit and vegetable bar. By providing four 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 will introduce the students to a greater variety of fresh fruit including Persimmon, Apricot, and Carombola, just to name a few. We use whole grain white bread and whole wheat rolls, and will offer whole wheat pizza crusts to insure students get the grains they need.
French Fries (which are considered a vegetable) are baked rather than deep fried in all schools. Fries are only offered on the menu a few times per month.
Desserts are considered a treat with lunch, and have been limited to once per week on the menu.
USDA Donated Foods
Part of the funding of the National School Lunch Program comes to the district in the form of USDA donated foods. As students tastes have changed, the types of foods offered as donated foods 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 from USDA.
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.
As of 2008, we have eliminated trans fats from foods we purchase.
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 several years.
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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.
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 Wisconsin farm and location when these wonderful farm fresh items are served. We welcome local farmers to join us in partnering to bring fresher products to the schools.
We understand the changing environment and the concern of rising childhood obesity. We will continue to evaluate the lunch program as new information is received, and make changes as necessary to comply with USDA guidelines and any local policies.
I would also be glad to speak to anyone who needs more information or has concerns about Nutrition and our school lunch program.
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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 were required to develop and implement wellness policies by the start of the 2006-07 school year. In response to this requirement, our school districts formed committees made up of parents, administration, faculty, and students to develop their wellness policies.
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- Salad and sandwich option daily in addition to hot meal choice
- More made from scratch recipes
- Eliminated products containing trans fats
- Fruit and Vegetable Bars with more daily choices
- Harvest of the Month with fun facts and recipe ideas
- Offering a choice of white and whole grain bread
- French Fries only Baked
- Changed milk choices to 1% white, 1% chocolate, and skim
- Desserts reduced to once per week
- No additional salt available to students as a condiment at elementary and middle schools
- Beverages and snacks follow the Alliance for a Healthier Generation guidelines
- Promoting Healthy eating at Elementary Schools with Nutrition Tips and Menu board
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