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Elementary School Lunch: A Pleasant Surprise

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Well hello there!

I wanted to tell you about an internship experience I had last week because I was so impressed with a certain meal I had.  No, I’m not referring to a gourmet restaurant (from which the above picture was taken).  I’m talking about an elementary school lunch!

We went to a local elementary school with plans to eat with the kids, chat with the Nutrition Director and mingle with other staff.  I remember what my school lunch was like back in the day (mushy grapes, fried chicken patties, meals that were all one color) and was curious to see what we would be eating.

We went through the line as soon as we arrived and I was pleasantly surprised to see spaghetti with red sauce, broccoli, bread sticks, salad with ranch dressing, plums, apple sauce and milk.  Not too bad! As soon as I dug in, I will admit I was relieved because it tasted really good.  I wasn’t about to leave food on my plate in front of the RD who planned the menu, but I knew this wouldn’t be a problem.

Once we were about half-way through, the RD began telling us how they made healthier swaps in their mostly made-from-scratch menu (so impressive!).  Here’s what she said:

  • Whole grain spaghetti noodles
  • Homemade tomato sauce with the addition of pureed zucchini, carrots, onions
  • The sauce also includes a mix of 50% lean ground turkey, 50% beef for a great flavor and nutrition profile
  • Whole grain bread sticks
  • Spinach and romaine replaced iceberg in the salad, which is accompanied by a squeeze bottle of low-fat ranch (love this idea because it’s way less messy than the scoops and controls portion better)
  • Chocolate milk is offered, but only as skim and in a small carton
  • Fruit is offered as dessert!

I really appreciated how hard the school has worked to learn new recipes and cooking techniques.  When talking to the kids, they seemed to be responding really well to the new food!

Cheers to the weekend!