2016 National School Lunch Week Successes
During National School Lunch Week 2016, students across Texas had the opportunity to "Vote for a Winning Lunch." The Texas Department of Agriculture developed ballots, a ballot box and other resources schools could use to encourage students to declare victory for good nutrition.
Commissioner Miller Visits Alice ISD for National School Lunch Week
On Oct. 14 Agriculture Commissioner
Sid Miller visited Alice High School to show his support for National School Lunch Week. Commissioner Miller took time to visit with the food service staff and offer his encouragement for their work to serve fresh, nutritious foods.
In addition to celebrating National School Lunch Week, Alice ISD participated in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) Local Products Challenge throughout October. Krystle Flores, the food service director at Alice ISD said they served local foods and Texas watermelon during National School Lunch Week. Photo courtesy of Alice ISD.
School Lunch Candidates Debate at Copperas Cove ISD
On, Oct. 11, Assistant
Commissioner for Food and Nutrition Angela Olige and Student Engagement Specialist Lindsay Baerwald visited Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary School in Copperas Cove ISD to kick off National School Lunch Week 2016.
Students in 3rd through 5th grades were on the campaign trail with Texas produce and candidates from all the vegetable subgroups — Miss
Other, Miss Starchy, Mr. Legume, Miss Red & Orange, and Miss Dark Green. These candidates gave campaign speeches outlining why they should win the election as the best vegetable subgroup and participated in a live debate! Following the debate, students got to meet the candidates and enjoy a Taste of Texas from each of the candidates' subgroups featuring delicious produce grown right here in the Lone Star State!
School Lunch Candidates Hit Campaign Trail in Judson
At Judson ISD in San
Antonio students had a chance to meet actual candidates from the “Vote for a Winning Lunch” campaign during National School Lunch Week. The child nutrition team sent candidates Mr. Cookie and Ms. Sandwich out on the campaign trail to several elementary campuses.
- The Judson ISD nutrition team developed these descriptions of the candidates:
- Ms. Sandwich is a healthy lunch option with whole grain breads, vegetables and delicious fruits. She wants you to vote for a healthy lunch by always picking whole grains, fruits and vegetables for lunch!
Mr. Cookie is also made with whole grains, but he does not have the healthy fruits and vegetables that students need to learn and play well.
Students were encouraged to cast their ballots for the candidate who best represents a healthy school lunch. The students had a lot of fun meeting their candidates and casting ballots at lunch time.
“We believe this was a very successful means of getting the students excited and involved in this year’s NSLW,” said Carlie Rauschuber of the Judson ISD Child Nutrition Department. Photo courtesy of Judson ISD.
2015 National School Lunch Week Success Stories
In October 2015, schools across Texas used the Texas Department of Agriculture theme "Discover the Great Plate of Texas with a Healthy Lunch" to successfully introduce students to local products during National School Lunch Week, Farm Fresh Fridays and Local Products Challenge events
. Success stories here and on the Farm Fresh Fridays
pages show the innovation and creativity Texas schools use to introduce students to healthy meals.
Magnolia ISD Helped Students Discover Healthy Texas Foods
The Child Nutrition Department at Magnolia ISD celebrated National School Lunch Week 2015 by introducing elementary school students to Texas fresh produce in a variety of menu items. Some of the Texas products and menu items students enjoyed include cilantro brown rice, fresh watermelon, “Strawberry Fields” salad, rosy applesauce and Texas citrus fruits.
The students were encouraged to try one of the new menu items and provide feedback. If a new item generated enough positive feedback it will be considered for next year’s menus. After trying a new Texas item, the students also picked out a picture of the item from a basket and they colored it. They could put the artwork on a board in the dining area and receive either a sticker or pencil as a reward.
Many of the students were able to identify the farm fresh produce and the project encouraged them to connect their food with a Texas farm. The goal for the Magnolia ISD Child Nutrition Department was to teach students to make healthier food choices and help them understand where their food originates and how eating locally grown food has an impact on the local economy.
Posted January 15, 2016
Coppell ISD Serves up Fun with Food Art, Local Products
During the 2015 National School Lunch Week Coppell Independent School District brought new meaning to the term culinary arts. The nutrition staff used food art featuring fresh fruits and vegetables to illustrate this year's Texas Department of Agriculture National School Lunch Week theme “Discover the Great Plate of Texas with a Healthy Lunch.”
The district also used nutritional creativity for its participation in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Local Products Challenge. The nutrition team served a mango quinoa salad with all the fruits and vegetables grown in Texas. Thanks to a local farmer who can source foods from other farms in Texas, they were able to get mango grown in Harlingen. Also, the nutrition team at Lee Elementary made food art using produce from the campus garden to create the Lee Harvest Garden display outside the cafeteria.
Both the food art and the innovative menus helped get students excited about fresh fruits and vegetables. The district’s Dietitian and Menu Planner Susan Wilson said students even purchase more salads when there’s food art, adding that creativity can be found at all the campuses.
“I have noticed when our cafeteria managers have the option to come up with their own ideas at their individual campuses we always end up with much more exciting events,” she said. “This year we gave them some guidelines and then let their creativity run a little wild!”
Photos courtesy of Coppell ISD. Posted December 3, 2015
2014 National School Lunch Week Success Stories
Texas students celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2014 during the week of October 13-17 with the theme “Score Big with a Healthy Texas Lunch.” Across Texas, NSLW and the Texas Department of Agriculture's Local Products Challenge created excitement about school meals and Texas products. Success stories from the 2014 NSLW are featured below and more will be added. Please submit success stories to Walter Brewer by sending an email to Walter.Brewer@TexasAgriculture.gov.
Magnolia Students Celebrate the Tastes of Texas During NSLW
The Magnolia ISD Child Nutrition Department celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) by introducing new menu items such cilantro-lemon brown rice and charro beans in our elementary schools, Cajun beans and brown Rice and oven roasted zucchini in our middle schools and cheesy spinach and macaroni bake in the high schools.
NSLW activities included the taste testing of locally grown, locally available produce such as Texas Ruby Red grapefruit and fresh Texas oranges during meal service. The child nutrition staff distributed handouts and stickers to students.
The elementary campus joined in making fresh fruit smoothies and tasting locally grown and locally available produce. The middle school tasted a fresh citrus fruit salad with locally grown grapefruit and the high school joined Chef Adon for a taste of fresh spinach salad with fresh grapefruit vinaigrette.
Posted November 6, 2014. Photo Courtesy of Magnolia ISD.
Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school gets Rowdy for NSLW
Northbrook Elementary in Fort Worth had a “Rowdy” kickoff for National School Lunch Week (NSLW). Part of the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Independent School District, the school’s surprise guest during NSLW was Rowdy, the official mascot of the Dallas Cowboys. The assembly erupted in screams and cheers when he was announced. Rowdy was there for a Fuel Up to Play 60 event, but he also visited the cafeteria to get students cheering for school meals.
Rowdy fit perfectly with the sports-related theme “Score Big with a Healthy Texas Lunch.” Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD continued that theme with menu items like Homerun Hot Dogs, Balance Beam Breadsticks, Slam Dunk Sweet Potatoes, Pumped Up Pineapple, Ranger Rolls, Jump-shot Jell-O, and Cross-Country Coleslaw. Plus, the staff members wore sports-related outfits throughout the week.
The district also took part in the Texas Department of Agriculture Local Products Challenge. Each day at all locations, three Texas-grown products were on the lunch menu: oranges, grapefruit, and a local vegetable (sweet potatoes, cabbage and zucchini). Dietitian Meghan Martinson said the grapefruit was a HUGE hit.
“We almost didn’t get it because it wasn’t quite ripe/ready, but our produce company was great in making sure our kids could try something new (grapefruit) that week that was also a local product,” she said. “We featured roasted sweet potatoes, coleslaw and parmesan-ranch zucchini.”
She added that the hard work of the staff makes it possible for the students to “Score Big” with their lunches.
Posted November 5, 2014. Photo Courtesy of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD.
Texas Pumpkins Take Center Stage at Sanger ISD NSLW Celebration
For National School Lunch Week (NSLW), the Sanger ISD Child Nutrition Department focused on serving students locally grown products and products produced in Texas. The district also participated in the Texas Department of Agriculture's Local Products Challenge.
The child nutrition department made a special effort to get the youngest students excited about NSLW by bringing special activities to Chisholm Trail Elementary. One day during NSLW the assistant superintendent and deputy assistant dressed in fun Texas attire and serving the students in the Chisholm Trail cafeteria. Each class at the school also decorated a pumpkin using only fresh fruits and vegetables as the decorations and all the pumpkins were grown in Texas.
At Clear Creek intermediate School and Butterfield Elementary the morning announcements during NSLW gave the students fun facts about lunch and students were given a small surprise each day consisting of a jelly bracelet, a pencil, a ruler, a magnet and an activity booklet.
The goal was to teach the students about the special kinds of foods that are healthy and available right here in the great state of Texas. The Sanger ISD child nutrition department is looking forward to spotlighting some of the other campuses during National School Breakfast Week.
Posted October 28, 2014
Special Guests Help Lackland ISD Serve Tasty School Lunches
Lackland ISD’s 2014 Celebration of National School Lunch Week was a huge success. During the week the students were treated to a special menu that featured local products including watermelons, oranges and corn that were all from Texas. Cafeteria Supervisor Lolita Carrillo said the Texas watermelon was a big hit with students. Texas corn was added to the cafeteria’s already delicious corn bread recipe to create the Texas Cornbread featured on the week’s menu.
Guest appearances included local military volunteers and Bev Concha, a guest chef from Education Service Center Region 20. The students were thrilled to have local military volunteers serve them in the cafeteria. The guest chef presented students with stickers for trying new items and correctly identifying the fresh fruits and vegetables in her produce basket.
The students were treated to other fun events, including a coloring contest for the younger grades. The colorful decorations and fun posters added to the festive environment.
Posted October 23, 2014
2013 NSLW Success Stories
The schools featured below were included in the School Nutrition Association magazine's coverage of the 2013 National School Lunch Week celebration. Read about last year's National School Lunch Week successes from school districts across Texas.
Anthony ISD Lassoes a Texas-Size Celebration
Anthony ISD took on the Texas-size challenge and celebrated National School Lunch the entire week of October 14-18. The district featured at least three Texas grown products daily as part of Take a Texas-size Taste Tour and the Local Products Challenge. The Child Nutrition department teamed up with campus staff and faculty and had activities for students on a daily basis.
Wednesday was the highlight of the week when local celebrities were lassoed in to make the celebration even more memorable. Cafeteria staff, students, and teachers were all encouraged to wear western attire to show their Texan style. A booth displayed Texas grown products from local farmers.
The Town of Anthony wheeled in a trailer decorated with hay stacks, saddles and a variety of banners from local farmers. An outside barbecue setting was assembled where cafeteria staff served healthy reimbursable meals to students as country music played in the background. The outside patio tables were decorated with lone star color stars and cowboy silhouettes!
Numerous special guests attended including Anthony Mayor Lee Vela. Campus Principal Oscar Troncoso was present during the entire even and cheered lasso activities. The celebration was a complete success! A story about the event was even featured in the West Texas County Courier. The support of the community, parents, staff and local dignitaries helped make the experience flawless.
Posted December 6, 2013
Raymondville ISD Students Extend NSLW Celebration by Decorating Texas Grown Pumpkins
Raymondville ISD (RISD) celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 14-18, by offering locally grown products and products produced in Texas such as watermelons, grapefruits, oranges, corn tortillas, noodles and a variety of milk.
To generate excitement and awareness, RISD featured the NSLW menu on its Child Nutrition website identifying each product grown and produced in Texas by identifying them with a Texas map emblem.
Parents were invited to join their students for lunch during NSLW. Daily NSLW announcements were initiated Friday October 11, 2013 at all campuses. Elementary and middle school coaches assisted in the celebration by utilizing the NSLW suggested activities designed to show students that exercising is fun and easy and help them envision future success.
RISD Child Nutrition Service continued the locally grown product awareness through October by holding a Healthy Pumpkin decorating contest with Texas grown pumpkins. Elementary, middle school and high school students participated in the pumpkin decorating contest. The purpose of the contest was to remind students in a fun way of the importance of healthy foods and physical activity. The pumpkins were decorated with health themes such as nutritious foods, fruits, vegetables, sports and exercise.
Posted December 5, 2013
Round Rock ISD Features Tasty Texas Foods for NSLW
Round Rock ISD’s food service department celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) by participating in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) inaugural Local Products Challenge.
To fulfill their Local Products Challenge pledge, the food service team focused on the district’s 33 elementary cafeterias which offered an average of three locally grown or produced items each day during NSLW. Some of the local products included tomatoes, watermelon, baby carrots, cucumber, oranges and grapefruit. Also, the milk offered every day throughout the school year comes from Texas cows and is produced in Austin.
TDA’s Local Products Challenge was created to recognize that October is National Farm to School Month. Round Rock ISD’s participation was timely because it is currently working to enhance its farm to school efforts. An important part of serving local products during NSLW was reaching out to produce vendors to determine what local items would be seasonally available.
To generate enthusiasm and awareness for the Local Products Challenge and NSLW, Round Rock ISD communicated with parents through eNews and Twitter. TDA’s NSLW morning announcement scripts were sent to the elementary campuses to create student awareness for NSLW.
Harlingen CISD Shines During National School Lunch Week
Promoting locally grown and produced products has been a goal for Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District for many years. When the Texas Department of Agriculture announced its Local Products Challenge during National School Lunch Week 2013, October 14-18, Harlingen CISD eagerly accepted the challenge and began editing menus to accommodate more Texas products during the special week.
Located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is uniquely situated to capitalize on the area's wealth of agricultural production. Star fruit from River's End Nursery in Bayview was literally the "shining star" of National School Lunch Week at HCISD. A special relationship with River's End was cultivated through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and expanded to meet the Local Products Challenge. Each of the district's 18,000 students was introduced to the Texas star fruit as a garnish atop fresh strawberries and grapes.
Texas citrus is grown throughout the Rio Grande Valley, making serving up fresh oranges and grapefruit a breeze. Each day during National School Lunch Week, all 27 of the district's cafeterias served Texas oranges grown just 45 minutes from their back doors and HCISD is proud to announce that the first Texas grapefruit harvest for the season went straight from the grove to Harlingen cafeterias on October 16.
To round out the "Texas-Size Taste Tour" Harlingen CISD served milk from El Paso, tortillas from Edinburg, tortilla chips and taco shells from Dallas, and watermelon from Brownfield. Each campus read announcements and displayed posters provided by TDA. Elementary students participating in school lunch were given promotional items such as bookmarks, pencils, "Health Nut Glasses," and magnetic picture frames.
All the excitement surrounding the "Texas-Size Taste Tour" at Harlingen CISD was captured on the district's Facebook page. Each day a different TDA designed graphic was displayed and the Texas products served that day were highlighted.
The Local Products Challenge proved to be just that for Harlingen CISD. When produce was delivered to each school on the Friday prior to National School Lunch Week, the Harlingen CISD child nutrition administration quickly realized that the Texas menu items planned were not delivered due to availability and seasonality. The department quickly called on partners Nicho Produce and River's End Nursery and they were able to scramble for alternate Texas grown produce. The result was the first grapefruit harvest of the season was delivered to HCISD. The dedication to the Local Products Challenge created a positive buzz around the district and community and has encouraged HCISD to continue serving Texas produce and products.
Photo: Harlingen CISD served locally grown star fruit and citrus with strawberries and grapes during National School Lunch Week.
Posted October 30, 2013
Special Guests Serve Up NSLW Fun at North East ISD
For many years, North East ISD in San Antonio has taken one day during National School Lunch Week to invite guest servers to work behind the cafeteria line at schools throughout the district. This year was especially fun for the servers, including the Board of Trustees, Superintendent Brian Gottardy and other district leaders, because they got to wear cowboy hats and red Texas aprons. It was all part of recognizing the Texas Department of Agriculture’s NSLW theme “Take a Texas-Size Taste Tour.”
“It is fun to have district administrators work behind the line because they get to see how challenging it is to feed hundreds of students in a short period of time,” said Sharon Glosson, the NEISD executive director of child nutrition. “They gain an appreciation for our department and employees. The students love to see new faces behind the line, especially their own principal.”
In keeping with the “Take a Texas-Size Taste Tour,” NEISD students were treated to foods from the great state of Texas, including samples of Texas produce.
Photo: The NEISD School Nutrition Staff
Updated October 23, 2013
Copperas Cove ISD Shows Texas-Size Enthusiasm for NSLW
Copperas Cove ISD (CCISD) celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) with a kickoff on October 11, 2013 at Mae Stevens Elementary School. Rick Kirkpatrick, Deputy Superintendent of CCISD, read the proclamation and cut the ribbon to get the event started. The CCISD Child Nutrition Department used the Texas Department of Agriculture’s “Take a Texas-Size Taste Tour” theme and decorated the school’s cafeteria with Texas themed items.
“I wanted to promote local produce and we used our kick-off as an opportunity to showcase some local produce and show the kids what this produce looked like,” said Melissa Murray-Paez CCISD Director of Child Nutrition and Warehouse Services. “For example, I showed students what a whole spaghetti squash looked like, then I cut it open and showed them what the insides looked like. I then told them how easy it was to cook and what it tasted like. I did this with a different produce that they would be tasting each day during National School Lunch Week.”
Murray-Paez said the student response was “awesome” and their enthusiasm was enhanced by special prizes students could win by participating in the taste tests. Each day the children tried a sample and dropped their names into a basket. A total of 832 samples were tested during NSLW.
Murray-Paez was just as enthusiastic about NSLW and she is planning to continue with similar efforts.
“This is just the beginning and I look forward to many more events this school year,” she said. “After all … National School BREAKFAST Week is coming up!”
Photos: Top to bottom, Melissa Murray-Paez leads a fresh foods demonstration during the NSLW kickoff event; a student takes an onion sample for taste testing; students put their names in a basket for prize drawing.
Updated October 23, 2013
La Vernia ISD Hosts Long List of NSLW Events
La Vernia ISD kicked off the 2013 National School Lunch Week with Superintendent Tom Harvey and the school board signing a Proclamation that October 14-18 was National School Lunch Week. The La Vernia newspaper even featured the event. Throughout the week, the La Vernia students enjoyed a variety of activities and events including:
- The campus child nutrition teams participated in a decorating contest for their serving lines or displays
- Morning announcements gave students fun information about the components of a healthy lunch
- Each campus had students working in the kitchens and serving (they followed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points procedures)
- The staff conducted taste tests on various Texas products and Texas grapefruits were a big hit
- There were prizes, drawings and trivia questions during lunch times
National School Lunch Week activities even featured a Mini Health Fair at the Primary School. It offered a chance for child nutrition staff to talk to parents and students. The fair featured games that were all about fruits and vegetables and making healthy choices. Child Nutrition Director Vicki Spessard said it was a great week and everyone worked hard to have fun and educate the students on Texas products.
Updated October 22, 2013
Glen Rose ISD Students Explore New Foods for NSLW
This was Dawn Foos’s second year as child nutrition coordinator at Glen Rose ISD and she said she did more for National School Lunch Week (NSLW) this year than last and hopes to do more each year. Her child nutrition staff made good use of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s “Take a Texas-Size Taste Tour” materials and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program. Foos said the students were introduced to new foods like honeydew melons during National School Lunch Week.
“We just started the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program through USDA, so they have been providing fresh fruits and vegetables we didn’t normally get like blueberries and fresh pineapple,” Food said. “We had the spring salad and they loved it. It’s amazing how much they like the fresh fruits and vegetables. We had taste tests and had them on the line.”
After Foos submitted her NSLW menus, the local newspaper thought the taste testing for National School Lunch Week was newsworthy and wrote an article about it. The enthusiasm for NSLW and child nutrition was apparent in the article and the activities Glen Rose students enjoyed.