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Leaner lunches with more fruits and vegetables greet Jackson County students heading back to school

Leanne Smith |

JACKSON, MI – While your kids were enjoying their summer vacation, their school lunches were getting a makeover.

There still will be plenty of food on their trays when classes resume Tuesday, and favorite foods such as hot dogs, nachos and pizza are still on the menu, said Patti Russell, Northwest Community Schools’ food service director.

But overall, the meals will be leaner, feature larger portions of colorful fruits and Read more

New School Meal Rules on Track with Taher’s Food4Life Initiative

Ruth Lahmayer Chipps

Chef-developed, registered dietitian-approved meals served in twelve states

By Ruth Chipps, MS, RD, National Director, Nutrition & Wellness, Taher, Inc.

It is back to school time and new school menu regulations for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), administered by the USDAtake effect this week throughout the country. These are the first significant changes in nearly fifteen years and are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed by congress. The effort was championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’s Move! Campaign.

The new USDA rules are designed to improve health and nutrition of over 32 million children. Following are some of the changes:

  • Lots of fruits & vegetables: The required offering has doubled. Each student must have at least 1/2 cup fruit or vegetable. (Half of the tray will be fruits & vegetables when appropriate amounts are taken). Read more

Farm to school is a focus at Central

Farm to school initiatives are growing trends today and will be for decades to come. Taher, Inc. has been committed to offering fresh, made-from-scratch meals for schools that include farm-direct produce.

School meal choices at Central Public Schools are chef-developed and registered dietitian-approved and now, the district will have even more farm-focused foods to look forward as plans develop for a school garden.

Cindy Ann Lambright, a professional chef and food service director for Taher, Inc. at Central Public Schools manages the school lunch program and recently returned from a national conference that was entirely dedicated to educating attendees about new advances in “Farm to Cafeteria” programming. In addition to gaining knowledge and resources, Lambright was a recipient of a $1,000 grant for school garden programming at Central Public School District.

The conference, titled “Digging In!” was held in Burlington and brought together food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, and more to advance their skills in this rapidly growing movement. The conference included skill-building short courses, field trips to Vermont farms and institutions, inspiring speakers and a diverse workshop program as well as networking with folks who are working hard to connect their communities to local, farm-fresh food.

“The conference was very inspiring and I was able to learn about farm to cafeteria best practices and educational programs that are in effect across the country,” said Lambright. “The highlight was receiving the school garden grant, and we’ve already formed a Farm to School Committee which will be meeting frequently to form our garden plan, working with the Future Farmers of America, teachers and students to collaboratively build the program. This is win-win for our students and the community as we continue to offer fresh, flavorful foods in our programs.”

Some of the initial plans for the committee include evaluating an in-classroom method to allow students to grow culinary herbs for use in school meals and in classroom taste-test activities. Student involvement in the gardening process means they are more likely to try and accept new tastes and food items.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about involvement in the Farm to School Project, contact Lambright at (952) 467-7147.