Wondering how to improve school lunch and encourage healthy eating habits? Let’s take a look at a district doing just that, Grand Forks Public Schools.
The new USDA school lunch requirements have caused some controversy among students, parents, and foodservice staff. However, some school districts like Grand Forks Public Schools (GFPS) seem to be handling it exceptionally well. They have taken creative approaches to combat these controversies and provide students with nutrition and satisfying meals.
These approaches are headed by director of Child Nutrition for Grand Forks Public Schools, Julie Tunseth. She, along with principals, foodservice staff, and other educators, have taken their students' concerns to heart and worked diligently to not only improve school lunch based on student feedback, but ensure that every student is educated on what they can take from the serving line.
The district had been making progress in school foodservice well before the guidelines were released, so the July 1st implementation date didn’t serve as a major shock to them. Parents agree that the school lunches served in this district are appealing and nutritious for their kids, which is what we all want to hear.
Grand Forks Public Schools currently offers breakfast and lunch in all schools and the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program is in place in 11 schools. This is a USDA program that encourages fruit and veggie consumption by making them available to children at no cost. Many schools see an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption at lunch as a result of this program. Additionally, GFPS has implemented an after-school snack program in all elementary schools.
The school district is currently utilizing a variety of resources from Learning ZoneXpress' 1 Great Tray™ product line to help promote school lunch and educate students and staff on the new guidelines, and their participation rates are as high as 89% in some schools. How impressive!
1 Great Tray Dry Erase Menu Board:
This allows the cafeteria managers to write in the offerings for the day.
With this poster, Grand Forks Public Schools is able to meet the USDA requirements of having signage at the front of the line. Tunseth also notes that it helps customers know what qualifies as a healthy meal.
Tunseth has given these to all of her foodservice managers! They serve as a practical and fun promotional tool. Next, she plans to send them to all of the principals to promote school lunch.
They really have a great system of working together, and I think that's the biggest takeaway here. There is much merit in how individuals react to change. There have been petitions and protests all over the country as a result of these new guidelines. Grand Forks Public Schools, however has done a great job of incorporating nutrition education into the cafeterias. Part of the concerns as Tunseth states have to do with the children not fully understanding what they can take. This district listens to their students, they use lunch as an opportunity for nutrition education, and everyone is on board.
On behalf of the team here at Learning ZoneXpress, I would like to not only congratulate Julie Tunseth and Grand Fork Public Schools, but thank them for everything they’ve done for the health and well-being of our students.