child nutrition program, dietetics, foodservice, Head start, menus, Nutrition, school food, school foodservice, shell fitness assessments, st. Charles parish school foodservice, the gazelle machine, Tulane dietetic internship
One more week of foodservice awaits me as I head out of week one and into week two. The only other foodservice after school rotation is the Lambeth House. That one should be a riot. One of the interns mentioned she met the owner of The Gumbo Shop there. He is a resident and I assure you he pays good money to be there.
Anyway, foodservice has been interesting. Thursday, Liz and I helped at a Head Start preparing the parents and children Thanksgiving lunch. Let’s just say I am not cut out for quantity foods. The manager of the kitchen looked at us and seriously asked if we brought our hair nets and aprons. NO! I am not a professional lunch lady. It make me somewhat angered by her mentality that we were volunteers and would help wherever she needed. I refuse to cut apples, serve breakfast and lunch and wash dishes (Liz had the joy of that one) one more time. Plus the hair net look does not suit me.
Today we had a great day sitting in on a commodity foods meetings with all the directors from Southeast Louisiana school parishes. Most were dietitians and we even got to add a few opinions here and there. The day went by pretty fast and we all laughed and joked around for almost an hour afterwards. Parents and guardians of kids and teenagers really have the audacity to think school lunch isn’t healthy and regulated. It is a federal law that the children received a certain amount of protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat or fat free milk.
Let me break it down for you:
1. Just because there is pizza on the menu does not mean it’s not nutritious. Guaranteed that the crust must be whole wheat flour and the tomato sauce and cheese and pepperoni are regulated for sodium. And if it’s from a chain, they make this special for the schools. Vendors know that school lunch is a good business deal so they work with them to get the food items they need and follow to specs and regs set forth by the federal government. And kids are not allowed to just have pizza. They must have a fruit and vegetable on the side along with milk.
2. Nachos on the menu does not mean chips and cheese sauce. Parents are always complaining that the meals are not healthy. But if they were to take a closer look they would be pleasantly surprised. Nachos sounds more appealing to young children than 100% whole corn tortillas, ground turkey meat, and Land O’ Lakes 2% shredded cheese with lettuce and tomatoes. The marketing approach is used to have the children eat the food. Because chances are the lunch at school is healthier than the lunch they get from home.
3. Think the regulations aren’t tight? Wait until 2014-2015 school year. Everything on the menu must be 100% whole grain. No refined pastas, biscuits, waffles, cinnamon rolls, bread sticks, pizza crust, grits, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, toast, rice. And the serving can only be 2 ounces per meal for the teenagers and 1.5 for the elementary and middle schoolers. If the red beans and brown rice comes with cornbread (100% whole grain), it can only be 1 ounce. 1 ounce of rice + 1 ounce of cornbread = 2 ounces for lunch. Do you know what 1 ounce of cornbread or a roll looks like? I do. I ate one yesterday. It was 2 smallish bites or 1 decent size bite. The kids laugh at that. Oh and if the chicken or fish is breaded, that counts as one grain equivalent. Now you only have 1 ounce for another grain on the plate that day.
I understand Michelle Obama tried to make this wonderful program for kids to eat healthy, but she needs to actually look at the details before dreaming of this. 2 ounces of grains, 1 ounce of meat, 1 cup of fruits, 1 cup of vegetables, and 1 cup of milk. It seems great in a perfect world but no children actually will comply to this. It creates more waste and makes it harder for kitchen workers to make specialty items such as gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans that are true to the culture. There is now a protein maximum per week and potatoes (even baked wedges) cannot be served until 2 whole cups of vegetables have been served for the week. That means that potatoes could only be served on Wednesday each week. It is not realistic.
The calories are also an issue. Since the new regulations call for more fruits and vegetables, the calories are harder to meet for the meal. You only obtain calories from protein, carbs and fat. Since the carbs and proteins are being regulated to a maximum, the dietitians are being forced to add fat to the vegetables just to get the calories of the meal high enough.
So next time you think school lunch is strictly gross and fattening, think again. The dietitians in these school systems work so hard to get it perfect and they are still slammed with regulations each year to make it better.
Next week, Liz and I are going to the schools to get the students perspective on the meals.
“If pizza wasn’t on the menu today, what would you purchase?”
“What is your favorite vegetable served at school?”
We are also implementing a social media network for the school foodservice to update parents and those in the community on the child nutrition program.
Wednesday, Erin, Mariam, Natalie, Jessica and I spent the day doing fitness assessments on Shell employees. We got to test our body fat %, do a 3 minute step test, 1 minute push up test, and stretch test. It was a great day.
We also went to City Greens on Poydras. It is an awesome concept; I really felt like I was in California. Specialty salads with literally any vegetable or protein topping you can think about adding. They are a little pricey for the meal but worth a try!
Until next time! Eat Smart and Move More. And Geaux Tigers and Saints!!