• What's New in School Nutrition?

  • From Cafeteria to Classroom: Make learning connections with CMSD School Nutrition in December


    Welcome to winter! This year, CMSD School Nutrition is providing educators across the district with resources to connect what scholars are eating in the cafeteria to what they are learning in the classroom. Each month, we will highlight special meal days, holidays, and birthdays featured on our menus. We’ll also include food facts to help educators engage with students about positive nutrition.

    What’s on the Menu?


    • Eat a Red Apple Day on December 1st
    • National Llama Day on December 9th
    • Holiday Treat at Lunch on December 15th

    Social Studies tie-in (Grades K-5, Geography Strand-Human Systems and Places and Regions, Economics Strand- Production and Consumption): Ohio is one of the top 10 states in apple production in the United States. It produces around 50 different varieties, including Ohio originals. Have students learn more about Ohio’s apple economy at OhioApples.com, learn more about how apples go from farm to table, and have students write about where they buy or get apples from and how they like to eat them.

    Teachers, submit your scholars’ writing to allison.thirion@clevelandmetroschools.org for a chance for your class to win a visit from our district executive chef and dietitian and a smoothie party for your class! One class will be chosen for the month of December. Please include the grade level and name of the school when submitting writing.

    Birthday Buzz: Jane Edna Hunter

    Jane Edna Hunter was a trained nurse, social worker, lawyer, investor, entrepreneur, and activist whose work has had a major impact on Cleveland over the last 100 years.

    Biography: Jane Edna Hunter was born in Peldelton, South Carolina in 1882. Jane started going to school at age 14, was able to graduate in 4 years, and went on to train as a nurse. In 1905, she moved to Cleveland, OH. Jane had a hard time finding adequate, inexpensive housing when she arrived in Cleveland. Her experience inspired her to found the Working Girls Home Association to provide housing to young African American women new to Cleveland. The name was changed to the Phyllis Wheatley Association to honor the first published African American poet. The Association is still active in Cleveland today, and similar organizations across the country were inspired by it. Jane continued to use her talents to support the Phyllis Wheatley Association and the community. She helped grow the Association from 23 rooms to 88 rooms, supported career training for women, and opened a music school and camp. 

    Social Emotional Learning tie-in (Grades K-5, Competency C: Social Awareness, C2:  Demonstrate consideration for and contribute to the well-being of the school, community, and world): Jane Edna Hunter made a big impact on Cleveland, OH through her activism, business, and philanthropy. She used her unique skills to support causes she believed in. Have students discuss causes that are important to them at school and in their community. Then, have students identify skills they have that they can use to make a difference.

    Reading tie-in (Grades 4-5, Reading Standards RL 3.2/4.2/5.2): Jane Edna Hunter named her organization after Phillis Wheatley, the first published African American poet. Since her time, many other Black authors have published poetry collections and been recognized worldwide for their work. Have students listen to works by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker,  and other works by Black poets. Compare the listen to experience of different styles of poetry and speakers.

    Food Facts!

    Fact: Food Safety is a key ingredient in any recipe!

    At CMSD, our cafeteria staff get lots of food safety training. Their goal every day is to make food that tastes good AND is good for students to eat. 

    Students and teachers can also promote safe food practices at home and at school with four easy steps

    • Clean: Wash your hands often with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds
    • Separate: Be smart- keep uncooked foods apart so that bacteria doesn’t spread
    • Cook: Cook foods all the way through. Raw foods can make people sick
    • Chill: When you store foods, make sure your refrigerator and freezer are at the right temperature

    This month, celebrate food safety by participating in National Handwashing Awareness Week, December 1-7th!

    Science tie-in (Grades K-8, Scientific inquiry and process): Are you washing your hands properly? Have students explore how different products get rid of “bacteria”. Discuss with students how bacteria and germs spread on their hands. Have students hypothesize which methods of handwashing (just water, soapy water, hand sanitizer, etc) will be best at removing germs. Gather supplies, and have students test each method to see which is most effective. Full lesson plan can be found here.

    About the Author:

    Alli Thirion-Blasius is the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Dietitian. Alli is one of the many people who create our school menus. She also works with students with special dietary needs to make sure they have safe school meals. Alli’s favorite vegetable is broccoli, and her favorite fruit is plums.

  • Make this Monday Meatless Monday!


    At CMSD, we love our students to try new foods and give them ways to eat healthy! Whether you are vegan or not, you’ll love this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadilla. Sweet potatoes and black beans are both in-season veggies, so grab them while you can!

    Did you know that Meatless Monday was first started in World War I to lower the number of foods being eaten? What they didn’t know back then was the extra benefits going meatless also has for the earth as well as yourself. Limiting meat at least one day a week can help lower our carbon footprint and use less energy by eating less meat. Just one quarter-pound beef burger uses up enough energy to power an iPhone for 6 months. Eating one meal without meat saves about 133 gallons of water which also helps save energy and resources.

    Reducing meat intake also affects your health. Less meat and more plant foods can help lower the risk of diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Cutting back on red and processed meats can also promote organ health, especially kidney health. This recipe is yummy, requires few items, and provides more than 20 grams of protein per serving! The same amount of protein if you were to eat a 2 ½ ounce serving of chicken. You don’t have to worry about not getting enough nutrients by taking out meat. Plant-based foods are packed with nutrients that we need to stay healthy.

    Why Monday? Research says that people are more willing to try new things earlier in the week on days like Mondays. This may be because people go out more and may get off course during the weekend and want to “reset” at the start of the week. Although it is called Meatless Monday, you don’t have to only eat meatless on Mondays. CMSDS has taco bowl days on their menu throughout the week where students can choose black beans instead of beef for their bowl, or try the French toast or Bosco sticks they offer too!

    Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadilla (servings: 4)


    • Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks: 2 Large
    • White Flour Tortillas: 4 wraps
    • Smoked Paprika: 1 tsp
    • Ground Coriander: ½ tsp
    • Cayenne Pepper: ¼ tsp
    • Black Beans: 7.5 oz, drained and rinsed or ½ can
    • Cheddar Cheese: 2 ounces, grated
    • Lime juice: 1 TBS
    • Salt: 1 tsp
    • Black Pepper: 1 tsp
    • Olive Oil: 1 tsp for tortilla & potatoes

     Optional Ingredients to Serve

    • Guacamole
    • Salsa
    • Greek Yogurt, lime juice
    • Jalapeño

     Healthy & Smart Swap Options:

    • Swap out the white tortilla for a whole grain tortilla to increase fiber
    • Use low-fat cheese to lower saturated fats
    • Use reduced-sodium black beans or rinse beans before use to reduce sodium
    • Use cumin if you don’t have coriander
    • Use chili powder if you don’t have smoked paprika or cayenne pepper

    Cost: $2.50 for half of a full quesadilla, one serving

    Calories: 488 calories

    Sodium: 672 grams

    Saturated Fat: 9 grams


    1. Place potatoes in an oven-safe dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add Smoked Paprika, Cumin, Ground Coriander, Cayenne Pepper, salt and pepper. Give them a mix to completely coat the potatoes. Put in oven at 390 degrees F for 25-30 mins or until softened with a caramelized surface
    2. Once they cool, use a potato masher and roughly mash the sweet potatoes. Keep some parts of the potato together do not completely mash.
    3. Take a tortilla and lightly brush one side with oil. Place on griddle oil side down, making sure the burner is OFF.
    4. Spread on half of your sweet potato mash, top with half of your black beans, 1 handful of cheese and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Place the second tortilla on top, push down with spatula to contain ingredients and brush with oil.
    5. Turn the burner on to medium heat and for 6-8 minutes on each side or until nice and golden. If you tap on the quesadilla, it should sound hollow and crunchy
    6. Serve with additional toppings and sides. Enjoy!

    Equipment suggestions:

    • You can use the microwave to cook the sweet potato. Mark potato with fork and microwave for 5 minutes, turning halfway through.
    • You can use a fork if you don’t have a potato masher
    • If you don’t have a griddle or pan, you can always bake in the oven or use an air fryer

    About the Author: Landry Price

    Landry is an intern with CMSD from Canton, Ohio. Landry went to Ohio University for college and found her passion for nutrition in her time there. Landry completed her food service rotation with CMSD and has loved it so far! Her favorite fruit is blueberries, and her favorite veggies are peppers. Landry's favorite sweet is dark chocolate.

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