What's New in School Nutrition?
Students taste test new item for the lunch menu (Video)
Written by CMSD NEWS BUREAU
While schools are closed, CMSD is limited to distributing grand-and-go lunch and breakfast at 22 sites. But the School Nutrition Department can't wait until classes resume and crews can get back to serving up more of what students want.
School lunches have evolved to the point that the Nutrition Department wants students to taste food items before putting them on the menu.
At four schools, two K-8, and two high schools, students recently tasted a mini cheeseburger slider made by Tyson Foods. If kid approved, this item, made from ground chicken not beef, could go on the lunch menu in six to twelve months.
At the participating schools, students ate a bite-size portion of the sandwich that included cheese and ketchup in a small cup. The students then put that cup in a ‘yes’ bin or a ‘no’ bin. The nutrition staff then counts the cups to see if students like the item.
“If the yes votes tally 70 percent, then we will put it on the menu,” said Allison Thirion, a CMSD registered dietitian.
The District, which serves about 32,000 lunches every day, has tried to put more items on the menu that students will enjoy, including more handheld options.
“We want our students to participate in the program,” said Thirion. “The best way to do that is to ask for their feedback.”
Thirion said CMSD is seeking to offer tasty food that the students will eat while at the same time making sure the food is nutritious and healthy.
She said adding new items to the menu is a multi-step process. It starts with the nutrition administration staff seeking new food items from distributors and seeing if they meet the District's price point and nutrition standards.
“Once they pass that, then we take the product to school-based staff to see if they could cook this dish,” she said. “If they sign off, then we take it to the students to taste. This process could take anywhere for six to 12 months.”
Thrion says getting student input is a win-win.
At John F. Kennedy High School, the students enjoyed the slider, as did scholars at Whitney M. Young PreK-8 School.
“It wasn’t all that,” said eighth grader Leah. “It wasn’t Chik-Fil-A, but it was decent for school food.”
Maykala, a second grader, compared the burger to a pancake and said the burger was delicious.
Meal Service Starts at 22 Sites (Video)
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
CMSD has turned 22 elementary schools into meal sites that will help keep students 18 and younger fed with free carryout meals during the extended spring break ordered by Gov. Mike DeWine.
The 22 sites, which began operation Monday, also are distributing grade-appropriate instructional material that students can use to keep their academic skills sharp while schools are closed.
From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, the sites will supply students with a free brown bag lunch, along with breakfast for the next day. Students must be present to receive meals. CMSD is also providing yellow bus service to and from the food pickup sites for those who need transportation.
A mother who stopped by Oliver H. Perry School left with a milk crate full of meals for five children in preschool through high school. The crate also contained paper instructional materials that she asked for upon entering the school cafeteria.
"It's stressful" dealing with the crisis, she said. "But we're making it work. "I've home-schooled before. I just have to get into a routine."
District CEO Eric Gordon rode a yellow bus that stopped at Garrett Morgan High School and Paul L. Dunbar School before arriving at Waverly School, another one of the meal distribution locations.
People were trickling into the site, but Gordon was not surprised things were off to a slow start. He said families were responding as if it were a snow day.
“Everything is working fine,” he said. “Our school nutrition staff has the meals, and the instructional packets are available.”
Gordon said every precaution is being taken on the shuttle buses to make sure people are practicing "social distancing" to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are encouraging one person per seat,” he said. “We are using antiseptic fog on the buses after the routes, and our environmental specialists are cleaning the buildings, common areas, cafeterias and offices so we know we are in a clean and sanitized site.”
For updates on CMSD’s response to the coronavirus, a list of meal sites, a shuttle schedule and academic, health and safety resources, go to clevelandmetroschools.org/coronavirus.