Category Archives: schools

What Will the School Lunch of the Future Look Like?

Quinoa, kale, Brussels sprouts, tamales, green smoothies. These are all foods you might find in a trendy restaurant … or on a lunch tray in your local school cafeteria.

School lunches are fast overcoming their stereotypical reputation as bland and uninspired through some creativity and innovation by school nutrition professionals. On this National School Lunch Week, let’s take a look toward the future.

If you’ve ever tried to concentrate on something when you’re really hungry, you’ll understand that students don’t perform at their best without a nutritious lunch, which they won’t eat unless it tastes good. Schools are committed to providing great food in their cafeterias, and it can be challenging to be innovative when there are so many considerations, including:

• Making it tasty for a wide range of food preferences
• Making it easy to eat in a short period of time
• Cost and budgetary concerns
• Regulations and nutrition standards
• Allergies and dietary restrictions
• Sourcing and availability
• Food safety, storage and logistics
• Limiting food waste

Schools and school districts may operate differently, yet they share the common goal of providing meals their students actually want and will eat. These meals fuel students with the needed nutrients to grow and think. Improving menus can take some creativity, and that’s why culinary training events have proven so popular over the past nine years in Oregon.

Jessica Visinsky, a Registered Dietitian and trained chef, travels the state to teach child nutrition professionals about new recipes, knife skills, menu requirements and strategies to promote healthy eating. The trainings are sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education Child Nutrition Programs, and are offered at no cost to the schools.

As a result, school nutrition professionals are preparing more scratch recipes, often from the Oregon State University Food Hero program. Check out Food Hero for recipes that can be made at home and with kids. Students have responded positively. Many also explore farm to school opportunities to include seasonal fruits, vegetables and other local foods year-round.

The school lunch of the future will likely include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Some are taking a serious look at plant-based diets and some are looking at local, sustainably sourced center-of-the-plate proteins such as seafood and beef. These are all complemented well by the nutrition provided in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Restrictions will continue for sodium, sugar and unhealthy fat, driven by science and recommendations from USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

You don’t have to gaze into a crystal ball to see the future of school lunches is looking bright. On this National School Lunch Week, we salute all of those who work so hard to put nutritious and delicious foods on our students’ trays. Thank you!

 

Home recipes of photos shown above … and more.

RELATED LINKS

Meet Chef Jessica: Serving up Fresh Ideas for Student Meals (VIDEO)

Chef Jessica Visinsky, RDN, is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

Sponsored by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Child Nutrition Programs, a new series of the popular culinary trainings are helping improve school cafeteria and child care menus.

Jessica Visinsky, Registered Dietitian and trained chef, who works on the ODE Child Nutrition Programs team, is leading the 2019 workshops in Lincoln City, North Marion and Umatilla to teach child nutrition professionals about 15 new recipes, knife skills, menu requirements and strategies to promote healthy eating.

In preparation for these workshops, Jessica visited the ODNC office to test recipes including National Dairy Council’s Sunny Chicken and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beef Tamale Pie. While Jessica cooked, we talked more about her thoughts on the program – check out the video below!

 

Anthony Newman Invites Kids to Enjoy Free Summer Meals (VIDEO)

Former NFL player and Oregon Duck, Anthony Newman, encourages all Oregon youth 1-18 years old to enjoy tasty, healthy lunches at nearby summer meal sites. There’s no registration, no sign up and no charge for these meals that are often served at local schools, parks, libraries or community centers.

Youth will have a chance to be nourished, be active and to have time with friends throughout the summer, and maybe even check out some books. What a great (and tasty) way to be ready for the start of school!

Parents will love to know that the meals follow USDA My Plate guidelines, providing all of the food groups to meet strict nutrition regulations for health.

To find a site near you, call 211, text “Food” to 877-877, or ask your school nutrition team for details.

RELATED LINK:

Summer Meals for Oregon Kids

Portland School Walks the Walk for Wellness

Jason Lee Elementary School in Portland has been recognized with a statewide award for literally “walking the walk” when it comes to championing wellness for students and faculty.

Every Friday morning, rain or shine, Jason Lee Elementary School staff, students and parents walk or run the “Morning Mile” before school. Combined with the school’s physical education program, nutritious cooking classes for students and a community garden, you can start to see some of the many reasons why it was one of the two schools in Oregon to earn a 2019 School Wellness Award.

This award recognizes schools for outstanding school wellness policies, practices and programs that promote healthy student and staff behavior. These schools have implemented evidence-based strategies to encourage student, staff and community health and wellness. These strategies include:

  • Providing healthy celebration opportunities
  • Scheduling recess before lunch
  • Providing breakfast after the bell
  • Wellness initiatives for school staff
  • Family Night events that get everyone moving
  • School gardens
  • Healthy cooking programs for families
  • Open gym before and after school hours

The Nutrition Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the title sponsors for these awards, join the Oregon Department of Education in recognizing these schools. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner and a certificate of recognition presented at local school celebrations. Wilson Elementary School in Corvallis joins Jason Lee Elementary as the other 2019 award winner.

The places where we live, work and learn have a big impact on our health. Wellness policies guide school efforts to establish an environment that creates a healthy workplace for staff, and promotes student health, well-being, and ability to learn. All districts are required to have wellness policies in place that meet Oregon’s minimum requirements, but schools can choose to implement stronger policies or additional programs to further support student and staff wellness.

Students Connect with School Nutrition Professionals (VIDEO)

When students from Armand Larive Middle School attended a Culinary Workshop in Umatilla, hosted by Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, they saw their school nutrition professionals in action. This post debuts a great new video they created to share their experience.

The Culinary Workshop is one of six regional workshops offered to school nutrition professionals throughout Oregon to help improve child nutrition programs. “I want to make sure we have a variety of foods represented, because these folks help make the menus for schools,” said Chef and Registered Dietitian Garrett Berdan.

Many of the recipes used for this workshop are from Food Hero (www.foodhero.org) , an online resource with shopping hints, cooking tips and videos, to help Oregonians improve their health with affordable and healthy recipes.

While attending the workshop, Armand Larive Middle School students interviewed, taste-tested and even gave their feedback on the finished recipes to re-cap the day. This is one of many video projects they have done with video equipment provided through a Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a school nutrition and exercise program launched by the National Dairy Council and the NFL to improve health and encourage today’s youth to live healthier lives. Grants are available to qualified K-12 schools to jump start healthy changes in the school environment.

“The students worked really hard on editing this,” said Angie Treadwell, SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator. “There was lots of footage to sort through, and I think it was a really good experience for them in many ways, especially in gaining a deeper understanding of school food service.”

As one of the many examples showing how the experience is paying off, Armand Larive Middle School’s Ashley Treadwell received Honorable Mention in the National Scholastic Press Association Individual Award Contest for her video story titled “Cooking Class.”

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Dairy Enlightening: Educational Leaders Tour Cloud Cap Farms

This summer, School nutrition directors, teachers, and administrators from Oregon and Idaho toured Cloud Cap Farms as a part of a special event called the “Fuel Up to Play 60 Pro Bowl.”

The Pro Bowl was a two-day event for school wellness champions to learn more about promoting healthy eating and physical activity through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program. The tour was organized by the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and Dairy West.

“The primary purpose of these tours is to dispel myths. And there’s the opportunity to ask any of the questions that you might have,” said Jenifer Cruickshank from OSU’s Extension Service.

The farm tour was led by Melissa Collman, a fourth generation dairy farmer. Cloud Cap Farms is an organic dairy located outside of Portland in Boring, Oregon. They milk 200 cows twice a day, and the farm has been in operation for 94 years.

As one of the Oregon Dairy Farmer Association’s Young Dairy Leaders, Melissa is an active “agvocate.” She has participated in many events promoting youth health and wellness, advocating for agriculture, and boosting awareness and support for dairy. She also works for Organic Valley, helping innovate and educate in the organic food system.

With a goal to help Pro Bowl attendees learn firsthand about food systems, and the farms and farmers who provide nutritious food and ingredients to their schools, Melissa shared about the importance of cow care to provide quality milk. “The healthier [the cow] is, the healthier her milk is,” Melissa explained.

“It’s amazing to see the care that all these cows get to make sure that the milk we are getting is safe and healthy and good for us,” shared Anne Leavens, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Central Point School District. “Milk is a huge part of our meal program,” said Leavens. “You don’t think about how much work goes into the food that we are getting every day.”

The Pro Bowl participants all agreed they learned more about food systems, healthy eating and physical activity strategies to share with students and staff at their schools.

“Anytime questions about milk, or even dairy cattle, come up, they’ve got a nice firm basis now to answer questions for other people,” said Cruickshank. “Because they can say, ‘I’ve been on a dairy, and this is what I saw.’”

 

Three Oregon Schools Honored for Wellness Efforts

It’s official! McNary Heights Elementary in Umatilla School District, Madison Elementary in Coos Bay School District and Vern Patrick Elementary in Redmond School District are winners of the 2018 Oregon School Wellness Award.

This award recognizes schools for outstanding school wellness policies, practices and programs that promote healthy student and staff behavior. These schools have implemented evidence-based strategies to encourage student, staff and community health and wellness. These strategies include:

  • Providing healthy celebration opportunities
  • Scheduling recess before lunch
  • Providing breakfast after the bell
  • Wellness initiatives for school staff
  • Family Night events that get everyone moving
  • School gardens
  • Healthy cooking programs for families
  • Open gym before and after school hours

“There is clear data that student health and student learning are connected. School-based wellness policies and activities create a safe place for students to practice selecting foods and experience physical activity that contribute to lifelong health,” ODE Manager of School Nutrition Programs Heidi Dupuis said. “These awards highlight the best efforts in Oregon to support wellness in students, their families, and communities.”

The Nutrition Council of Oregon and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the title sponsor for these awards, join the Oregon Department of Education in recognizing these schools. Each award recipient receives a $2,500 cash prize, a banner and a certificate of recognition presented at local school celebrations that will take place over the next two months.

“Many schools across Oregon have strong wellness policies,” Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council Director of Youth Wellness Crista Hawkins said. “These schools bring wellness policies to action through healthy eating and physical activity initiatives. The winning schools are wonderful examples of the work being done to support on-going wellness for students, staff, and school communities.”

The places where we live, work and learn have a big impact on our health. Wellness policies guide school efforts to establish an environment that creates a healthy workplace for staff, and promotes student health, well-being, and ability to learn. All districts are required to have wellness policies in place that meet Oregon’s minimum requirements, but schools can choose to implement stronger policies or additional programs to further support student and staff wellness.

New School Meals on the Menu for Oregon Students

The words “school cafeteria food” are taking on new meaning as Chef Garrett Berdan is training a growing number of child nutrition program professionals to prepare delicious and nutritious food for Oregon students.

A series of six culinary training events are underway to help improve school cafeteria menus statewide. With support from the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council and the Oregon Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs, this popular program is now in its eighth year.

The 2018 series includes Central Point, Nyssa, Bend, Salem, Umatilla and Hood River.

Chef Garrett Berdan, RDN, coaches child nutrition program professionals on cooking-from-scratch culinary skills, while preparing 15 different recipes. It is offered at no cost to school nutrition professionals, who are able to practice menu planning, weights and measures, knife skills and other culinary techniques.

The preparation of healthy meals for students emphasizes nutrient-rich foods, because studies show that well-nourished kids perform better in school.

“These trainings use Oregon State University Extension Food Hero recipes that meet USDA school nutrition requirements and emphasize using locally produced foods and ingredients,” said Erin Hirte, Manager of Youth Wellness for the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council. “Oregon farmers are helping provide creative solutions to old challenges that will benefit students now and into the future.”

Oregon’s dairy farm families and processors invest in youth wellness and education. They are involved with schools across the state, supporting programs such as this training.

 

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Oregon Celebrates National School Breakfast Week

National School Breakfast Week (March 5 to 9) is a weeklong celebration of the School Breakfast Program, which provides millions of children a nutritious morning meal each school day. Dairy is an important part of those balanced, nutritious breakfasts, so the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council helped organize events for Oregon schools.

On Monday, Independence Elementary Schools’ fourth and fifth grade students gathered in the gym for a special assembly with former NFL player Anthony Newman to learn about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast in order to fuel their day.

“When you start in the morning, you have to fuel your body,” said Newman, “and put something in your body so you can go all day long.”

On Tuesday morning, Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador Stephanie Breazile joined Newman in celebrating healthy school breakfasts with students and the school nutrition team at Ash Creek Elementary School.

“When you come to school, it’s like a game. If you don’t take care of yourself you’re going to crash. You’re going to get tired,” Newman warned. “Fuel your body, and take care of your body with the proper foods.”

Both assemblies ended with encouragement for students to take a pledge to live a healthy lifestyle. Alongside Newman, students and staff signed a poster to commit to that declaration.

According to a survey of School Nutrition Association members, 96 percent say student participation increases during National School Breakfast Week. National School Breakfast Week appearances were made possible by the Fuel Up To Play 60 program – a school health and wellness program supported by dairy farmers in partnership with the USDA, the NFL and the National Dairy Council.

 

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Oregon Schools Invited to Apply for School Wellness Awards

oregon-school-wellness-award-banner

Is your school making strides to improve health and wellness? Could your school use $2,500 to enhance nutrition and physical activity amongst students and staff? If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, it’s time to apply for the 2018 School Wellness Award.

For the 11th year in a row, the School Wellness Award will be given to three Oregon schools. Supported by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), the Nutrition Council of Oregon, and the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, the awards recognize schools’ efforts in putting their local wellness policies into action and making the connection between nutrition, physical activity and academic achievement.

A Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by ODE will review the applications, and Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor will make the final selection of the three award winning schools. Winning schools will receive a $2,500 check for their school, a banner and a signed plaque in recognition of their achievement.

This award not only recognizes schools for their accomplishments, but winning schools also serve as models for other schools working to create healthier school environments for student and staff wellness. The application deadline is January 31, 2018.

APPLY NOW!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Young via email or call 503-947-5795.

2017-2018 School Wellness Award Online Application

2017-2018 School Wellness Award PDF

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