School Lunches in Greeley, CO Inspired by Home Cooking

Children in Greeley, Colorado, are getting a big and healthy boost from the nutrition services and cafeteria staff of Weld County District 6. Starting on the first day of the 2011 school year, 75% of the food served to students in Greeley’s cafeterias will be made-from-scratch, with a goal of 100% by the end of the year.

According to a New York Times article, “Schools Restore Fresh Cooking to the Cafeteria,” Colorado “has been the least obese state in the nation since federal health measurements of American girth began” and “is a leader in the back-to-scratch movement.”

School districts, especially those with wealth or heavy parent involvement, have been working on improving the quality and health benefits of school lunches around the country in recent years. What sets Greeley apart is that 60% of Greeley’s 19,500 students qualify for either free or reduced-price meals.

Students in Greeley have been lunching this year on dishes like pasta with “homemade” sauce featuring herbs, spices, and some healthy veggies snuck right into the sauce and pizza with a whole wheat crust.

Children may not always realize the difference in their meals. Bean burritos will still be on the menu, but lacking the potentially harmful additives and preservatives of their frozen predecessors. Mac and cheese is still on the menu, and even has the neon orange sheen to which children have grown accustomed. Now, though, with the help of the wily food service staff, that orange tinge is thanks to turmeric, a brightly colored spice, rather than artificial food coloring.

The hope is that the changeover to a healthier school diet will encourage more parents to take an extra step, and begin serving healthier meals at home. “The biggest myth is that it costs more money,” said Kate Adamick according to The New York Times. Adamick, a food consultant, is co-founder of Cook for America, the company training the Greeley food services employees in healthy food preparation methods.

Serving homemade dinners at home is, of course, a little more work than take-out or pop-in-the-microwave frozen dinners, but the health benefits will be worth it, not only to the children, but parents too. And the benefits of teaching children proper nutrition habits while they’re young will be an invaluable asset as they grow up and begin their own families. Healthy, nutritious meals help adults and children build strong bodies and healthy teeth, and perhaps children will pay more attention in classes.

You can learn about more information like this written by a highly authoritative dentist, Greeley CO,  named Dr. Richard S. Boyes.



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