Tag Archives: child nutrition

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!

 

It Isn’t Every Day You Turn 100

You have to be careful lighting this many candles! This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Oregon Dairy Council.

According to a description written in 1918 by Oregon Dairy Council secretary Edith Knight Hill, the Council was originally created to serve as an educational resource supporting the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy products. She wrote, “The good seed sown will spring up and bear a big harvest of better health and prosperity.”

From the Council’s earliest days, dairy farm families made a commitment to support education, youth wellness and healthy communities. Back then, “The council and the teachers found that there were scores of little children drinking coffee exclusively and getting no milk,” writes Hill. “In Portland a milk survey was made and it was found that over 5,700 children, all practically under 14 years of age, were getting no milk.”

The Council supported child nutrition programs such as school meals to help students receive the nutrition they needed to perform at their best, both in and out of the classroom. The Council also served to help Oregonians better understand the important role of dairy in a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. These efforts continue today.



In 1943, the Oregon Dairy Products Commission was formed as Oregon’s first commodity commission. In 1985, the two organizations merged and later became known as the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council in 2016.

Many things about the dairy community are just as important today as they were a century ago: nutrition, food safety, cow care, labor availability and market conditions. But dairy farming has also become more sophisticated. Today’s dairy farmers use technology such as robotic milking machines, GPS for precision agriculture, RFID tags and even cow pedometers. Modern equipment and farmer expertise ensure that cows, employees, natural resources and communities can thrive together while boosting efficiency and production in a sustainable manner.

Besides providing nutritious foods, dairy farms are also improving the health of Oregon’s economy. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the economic impact of dairy products in Oregon totals $2.7 billion, supporting more than 12,000 jobs.

Indeed, it isn’t every day you turn 100, and we’re in good company for the celebration. Looking back, 1918 was a big year for dairy, as dairy processor Darigold, dairy supplier DeLaval, and two Tillamook dairies – Wilsonview Dairy and Tilla-Bay Farms – also turn 100 this year. Stay tuned for more stories throughout the month about Oregon’s rich dairy history, which runs several generations deep.


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