Fresh food offerings designed to expand students’ plates, palates

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“It looks like a big bald head!” a student at Charles Rice Learning Center proclaimed as he held a butternut squash during a recent lunch.

The exposure to healthy fruits and vegetables in Dallas ISD cafeterias aims to encourage students to make better food choices and lead healthy lives. Besides the squash, students got to see, touch and smell produce such as red cabbage, beets, cantaloupes and pineapples on Tuesday, April 7. Students had the chance to taste arugula and kale. They also met Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, and Dora Rivas, executive director of Dallas ISD’s Food & Child Nutrition Services. The two visited Rice to highlight the importance of maintaining current school-meal standards by eating lunch with students, touring the school garden and helping plant tomatoes and sweet peppers.

Dallas ISD’s Harvest of the Month program highlights a Texas-grown fruit or vegetable for students to taste during lunch. Sweet potatoes – more than 16,000 pounds of them districtwide – were featured in November. Feedback from students was positive enough to make officials consider adding roasted sweet potatoes as a regular menu item.

The growing number of healthy items being served tells a positive story.

Leafy greens are a major component of the district’s lunches. More than 95,000 heads of Romaine lettuce have been used in Dallas ISD meals since the first day of school in August 2014 – about 12,000 heads a month – in salads and on sandwiches. About 15,000 pounds of spinach ­ – 2,000 pounds a month – has been used in vegetarian entrees and salads.

See additional photos of the day’s activities here.

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