For those who haven’t had a chance to sample school cafeteria food, it may come as a surprise that today’s youth and staff aren’t eating the same way many of us remember.
On Thursday, individuals and staff from not only Weatherford ISD but surrounding schools and school districts enjoyed the WISD Child Nutrition Department’s Open House and Food Show, held at the Weatherford High School cafeteria.
Several of WISD's food vendors were on hand to allow individuals to sample the same food students will be eating during the 2014-15 school year. Items included pizza, burritos, cookies, meatballs and slushies. But before anyone raises the red flag for a cholesterol alert, all of these items meet or exceed the new meal guidelines that have been set as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
A strawberry apple sauce from National Food Group, for example, is made with no added sugar or sweetener but those at the event who tasted it said they never noticed the difference. Additionally, the pizzas from ConAgra Food Service are made with whole grains and items like turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni.
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Chris Smith, regional sales manager from Alpha Foods Company, helped Weatherford ISD Director of Support Services Alicia Hernandez coordinate the food show to allow everyone to get a taste of how the healthier options still are still appealing to children and staff in schools.
“These vendors all have the latest and greatest in meal options that all meet the nutritional guidelines and still have great taste,” Smith said.
Hernandez said she was pleased with the overall turnout at the event and that she is excited to provide new menu items to WISD students.
"I am extremely happy to be a part of the Weatherford staff," Hernandez said, "and our department is here to serve our students and staff members in any way we can."
Luann Hammett, the “lunch lady” from Ikard Elementary said she was equally as excited about the new menu options.
“This is gonna be great,” she said. “Lunch and breakfast is so important because if the kids aren’t eating, they’re not learning. These kids are going to be taking care of us in the future so we need them to be at their best.”
The standards set by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act make what the USDA calls the “same kinds of practical changes that many parents are already encouraging at home, including:
• Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week;
• Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods;
• Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties;
• Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size; and
• Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.”
All of the menus and foods - along with nutritional information - that will be available at WISD schools is available on the district’s website at www.weatherfordisd.com. Cost for breakfast is $1.25; elementary school lunch is $2.25 and secondary school lunch is $2.75. Free and reduced meals are also available for those who qualify.