Kenston Schools’ Department of Nutrition Services aims to create healthy habits, excitement and enjoyment around school lunch, Nutrition Services Director Andrew Mendez said.
In addition to other initiatives like no-waste November, once a month, Mr. Mendez plans to introduce elementary students to new foods and flavors to help them make mindful choices about what they eat.
“We’ve teamed up with some local vendors and local farmers to help us procure more produce year-round,” Mr. Mendez said.
Mr. Mendez and the nutrition department recently served for lunch and shared samples of rosemary honey glazed carrots. Students’ and parents’ positive reactions encouraged him to keep the program going.
Seeing students’ reactions in the lunchroom was the best part, he said.
“If one is trying it, they all want to try it,” he said. “There was a lot of hesitancy with some kids at first, but if their buddy next to them tried it, he would turn and say, ‘These are good. You’ve really got to give this a shot.’”
That prompted otherwise hesitant students to try the carrots, he said.
If each lunch table had a “cheerleader,” that student would encourage friends at the table to try the carrots, which was neat to see, Mr. Mendez said.
“Seeing the response from students and parents, they’d like to see it continue as well,” Mr. Mendez said. “I think myself and the ladies in the kitchen are all in agreement that we’ll keep it going.”
Mr. Mendez said that “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, but if it could be better, it’s as good as broken” is a core value of Kenston’s nutrition services department.
“We keep that in our mindset as we look to shape our department, build our reputation, make it a fun and enjoyable experience for the kids and build that fun atmosphere for them to look forward to and enjoy school lunch,” he said.
Nutrition services department staff members are always challenging themselves to think ahead, come up with new ideas and redeem time wisely – which goes beyond serving good food, Mr. Mendez said.
“How are we making our cafeteria an extension of the classroom?” Mr. Mendez said.
It can be creating an exciting atmosphere where students enjoy lunch while building healthy habits, he said.
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