Mars Area ramps up healthy lunch efforts

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It's not your parents' school lunch.

Sharon Gruver, regional director of The Nutrition Group, told Mars Area school directors Tuesday about two initiatives in their school lunches.

At the elementary level, the cafeteria is serving lunches in plastic-coated bags that have games on them.

"We hope to have more participation in the lunch program," she said. "Little kids want the lunch box with the latest superhero on it."

Elementary students also will see different types of apples in the cafeteria. Previously, only Red Delicious apples were available, she said.

The Nutrition Group also is introducing more fruits and vegetables and some unusual offerings into secondary lunches.

The Farm to Fork initiative is an attempt to get students to try different food items, and also to comply with federal guidelines on using more fresh produce, Ms. Gruver said.

"You will not see butternut squash offered normally on a school district menu," she said. "We hope to get students to try things they would not try on a regular basis."

She added that they ordered 10,000 ears of corn from their produce vendor for the schools they serve. A carrot on the school menu indicates a Farm to Fork item. A sign offering "fun facts" and a recipe about the item will be hung in the cafeteria that day, Ms. Gruver said.

A Thanksgiving feast will be offered in November with all the fruits and vegetables from the Farm to Fork program. Ms. Gruver said they will also have a chef carving a turkey and will have other traditional Thanksgiving items.

"We are trying move forward with some of the new ideas that we believe will make your program more successful," she said.

In other business, Amy Nassif again objected to the delay of start time at the elementary level, which was done this year to give teachers a common planning time. Mrs. Nassif and her husband also spoke about the issue in September.

"The critical issue is that K through 6 is losing instructional time with the teachers," she said. "I want the kids to be with the teachers. That's where they need to be."

Board President J. Dayle Ferguson said administrators will soon begin planning the next school year, and part of that process is a "reflective review.

"If administrators ... decide to revise their recommendation, the board will certainly be listening."

education - neigh_north

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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