Thursday, October 18, 2007

When School Lunch Works

I just returned from a trip up north where I visited the Central Grade School lunch program in Traverse City, Michigan. The school's cafeteria was cheerfully decorated with children's artwork, the lights were turned down (for noise control, not ambiance), and every 20 minutes, the cafeteria emptied and a new group of students filtered into the room. The children lined up for lunch in two lines separated by a salad bar stocked with a variety of vegetables and fruit including Bosc pears and Gala and Empire apples grown less than an hour away just north of Elk Rapids and a baked potato bar - with locally grown Russet potatoes - loaded with toppings like sour cream, cheese, and salsa. I joined a classroom of 5th graders for lunch and while I waited in line for my baked potato, I asked them if they liked eating lunch at school. The answer was a resounding "yes!" Central Grade School is part of the Traverse City Area Public Schools and was the first school in the district to have a farm-to-school program. The district's food service director buys apples, pears, asparagus, Butternut squash, cherries, and other fruits and vegetables directly from farmers who live in the area. Some of them even have children who go to one of the district's twenty-plus schools. It was obvious that the children liked the food. They snatched up the brown-skinned Bosc pears, the striped Gala apples, and the ruby red Empires before they took the bananas. And as I waited my turn at the baked potato bar, I over heard a 10-year old in front of me say, "I just love all this stuff." Fruits and vegetables just taste better when they are in-season.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, October 19: Breakfast - Yellow Delicious apple, O's; Lunch - 100% whole grain bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, carrots, Patty Pan squash, Julie's tomato soup; Snacks - whole wheat blueberry pancakes

Childcare Center Menu, October 19: pears, bagels, cream cheese; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, carrots, pears, bread, potato soup; chocolate chip cookies, cucumbers


Anonymous said...

Hi Betty! I love your blog. I cannot get Lilly to eat any meat- we have tried only chicken, but she will not eat it. The only way she has tasted it is in jarred baby food- which I think is too gross to taste so I feel hypocritical giving it to her. She loves beans, lentils, and most other green veggies, so I am not really worried about her intake. Any ideas?

Betty said...

Thanks! Caroline used to eat a lot of pureed chicken before she began feeding herself. Now that she is a self-feeder, she won't eat chicken. She started eating ground beef last week so I think that she just has a hard time with the texture of chicken. Have you tried ground chicken? Does Lilly like spaghetti sauce? If she does, you could try adding ground meat to spaghetti sauce. To make the ground meat easier to eat and digest, you could pulse the sauce a couple of times in a food processor.

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