National School Lunch Week (October 15-19) offers a chance to take stock of many new lunch developments.
“Between new meal patterns, chef-inspired recipes, and freshly prepared meals, there have been lots of great developments in school lunch [this year],” the School Nutrition Association observes. All these innovations apply to Wisconsin, and then some.
New school meal patterns from the federal government are adding more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods to menus around the state and country. The DPI has received much positive feedback on this change. While the new calorie, meat, and grain limits will require more adjustment for some students, they will also go a long way toward helping them learn to eat healthfully and to avoid obesity throughout their youth and adult lives.
In Wisconsin, this year’s innovations also include school garden grants (applications coming soon); a student chef competition (this spring) to create tasty, healthy recipes; and the first print edition (available soon) of the Nutritious, Delicious, Wisconsin curriculum.
Additionally, a DPI School Wellness Summit on November 7 will focus on “Transforming the Food and Fitness Environment.”
State Superintendent Tony Evers has recognized, in his School Lunch Week proclamation, the “resourceful and creative local food service administrators, managers, and staff working in cooperation with parents, teachers, community groups, government personnel, and students.”
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
From apples to zucchini with plenty of variety in between, approximately 60,000 students in 178 Wisconsin schools will offer more fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day thanks to a federal grant program.
The USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is designed to help children from low-income families eat more fruits and vegetables. The free and reduced-price meal eligibility is more than 56 percent in participating schools.
The grant provides $50 per student for schools to offer three or more snacks per week outside of federal breakfast and lunch programs. Last school year, participating schools in Wisconsin averaged 100 snack days during the school year. Special activities included a farmer’s market, build your own salad day, Wisconsin apple taste test, and health and wellness fairs. In previous years, participating schools have also incorporated nutrition education into the school day.