Auburn schools continue to provide a healthier taste.
The school district, which serves 8,000 lunches and 4,000 to students each school day, already is working to make school meal changes to meet specific USDA dietary requirements.
Those include: increasing the variety and amounts of fruits and vegetables offered, many from local farms; increasing whole grains and reducing sodium levels; making free water available during school meals; and providing only milk that is low-fat (1 percent), non-fat white or flavored.
It is all part of a district’s plan to get kids to eat smarter and healthier.
“If you give kids a chance at school to see and have access to healthy foods, they are going to go home and tell their moms, ‘Hey, I tried jicama on the salad bar, and I liked it,’” said Margaret Dam, Auburn Nutrition Services supervisor for the school district. “We’re trying to offer things that maybe their parents don’t have time to prepare or knowledge on how to prepare.”
The school district has used a Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant in the kitchen. A CPPW-funded project has school district staff exploring whole foods cooking. The training – in coordination with Dam – has brought new ideas to staff.
“It actually inspired our cooks to want to start testing recipes and making more things from scratch,” Dam said.
The eight-hour certified training – developed by Cynthia Lair of Cooking Interruptus – was taught by nutritionists at 17 locations throughout King County.
Auburn’s cafeteria staff have attended the training to learn cooking techniques and pick up information about the nutritional differences between processed and whole foods. The district’s cafeteria staff is enthusiastic about implementing the whole foods cooking recipes into their school menus.
The CPPW also is supporting students in the school district’s DECA student-led Commit to Fit marketing campaign to change the culture at school. More than 4,000 students and staff have signed up to participate. Commitments include, for example, 60 minutes of daily activity for one week, walking to school or making healthy food choices. Activities generate points on an online tracking system with the points redeemable for rewards.
Many of the rewards are donated by local businesses.
For more information, visit: www.committofit.org.
To learn more about the school district program, visit www.auburn.wednet.edu/ and click on “School Meals.”
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