School District 51 transitioning to healthy eating
The menu at District 51 schools is getting revamped.
This week, food service workers took lessons in the culinary arts. It’s all to provide healthier food options for students.
School lunches have a bad reputation and for good reason. In the past they haven't been very healthy.
LiveWell Colorado’s goal is to bring better nutrition to every school in the state. That’s about 178 school districts. It’s starting with the ones that need attention most, including School District 51.
"It was all the tater tots, French fries, and all the things that you just open a bag a pour on a sheet pan," D51 food service manager, Diana Tarasiewicz, said.
School District 51 is making the transition from serving some of the most highly processed lunches in the state, to ones made entirely from scratch.
Kitchen managers are getting some hands on training, so when students head to the cafeteria they'll be able to make smart choices.
"Colorado, even though it is ranked one of the healthier states in the country, has one of the largest growths in obesity in children,” Dan Sharp, food service director with D51, said. “We want to do this change to be part of the national movement, which is to get healthier food in the schools."
The district is doing that by teaming up with LiveWell Colorado.
"We looked at their kitchen operations, we looked at what equipment they needed, what kind of training they needed, and what kind of wellness policies they had,” Venita Currie, with LiveWell Colorado, said. “What you have to have is a vision, you have to have money, and you have to have training. Through this process they're getting all of that."
The healthy changes cost time and money, but those cooking it say it's worth it.
"For $2.35 a day, what the student get now is amazing value for what they do receive," Sharp said.
"To actually be able to bring some of that fresh food, the bright colors, and things that look good to the schools is so exciting," Tarasiewicz said.
District 51 has already switched exclusively to whole grains, one percent or skim milk, and added more fruits and vegetables.
In just two more school years, the plan is to use no processed ingredients whatsoever.
Now that kitchen managers have gone through training, School District 51 will put together a grant request from the Colorado Health Foundation.
It could award hundreds of thousands of dollars to help maintain healthy eating in our local schools.
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