School food menu changes
When I entered Middle School and no longer walked home for lunch (if you never had that experience you are a lot younger than I am) I discovered that one of the women in the cafeteria was the woman who cooked at our Girl Scout camp. Since she was a family friend it wasn’t long before I had been co-opted, and for the payment of a creamsicle, she had my help running the dishes through the dishwasher. (Funny what kids think is fun, isn’t it?)
In those days school cafeteria workers prepared the meals from scratch using fresh meat and fresh and canned vegetables. Over the years, changes in the school lunch program funded by the Department of Agriculture resulted in changes in the way foods were prepared and the menus generally started to reflect what kids would eat, not necessarily what was the most nutritious.
Here in Huntington we experienced a different kind of British invasion a few years back with Jamie Oliver. My son and his friends attending Huntington High School learned a lot about the difference between reality tv and reality. However annoyed many of us got at the way Jamie Oliver presented the situation, the truth was that the kids were eating pretty crummy at school.
Changes were already underway at the State Department of Agriculture to improve the farm-to-school program in addition to revisions in school lunch menus being changed at the Federal level.
State Superintendent Jorea Marple said the West Virginia Board of Education has adopted some of the strongest nutrition guidelines in the country. During the 2011-2012 school year the state piloted the Universal Free Meal Program, an effort to cook from scratch and feed all children for free across eight counties.
David Seay, director of Child Nutrition for Fayette County Schools, said the pilot program fed students an additional 400,000 meals last year.Marple credits the overall success of the Universal Free Meal Program for the state being selected for the Community Eligibility Option for School Meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the Farm 2 School program in West Virginia is gaining ground.
Pocohantas County has three schools actively encouraging students to eat more fruits and vegetables with many being locally raised. School gardens at the elementary school and middle school are active and a local community garden near the high school is also used.
State schools Superintendent Jorea Marple joined students for lunch at Mason County’s Leon Elementary School last week to highlight their farm to school food program. Principal Don Bower reported that the school’s locally grown products include the beef for hamburgers, wheat for the flour to make buns, and watermelon and peppers for the salad bar.
The Cabell Midland High School FFA program is harvesting corn and potatoes planted earlier in the year which were trucked to the Cabell County Central Office for school kitchen workers to prepare for inclusion in school lunches.