SDUSD bags traditional faves for healthier, gourmet cafeteria food
by Mariko Lamb
Sep 05, 2012 | 1634 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Daniel Hamilton, 17, participates in a food demonstration Aug. 28 in Pacific Beach to showcase the district’s healthier cafeteria offerings this year.       Photo by Jim Grant I The Beacon
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New gourmet-style food options incorporating more whole grains and fresh locally sourced organic fruits and vegetables are now on the menu for students at San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) schools.

Choices like an Asian salad with chicken or tofu, Baja fish sandwiches with chipotle mayonnaise, and vegetarian chili bread bowls will be dished out alongside locally sourced fruits and vegetables at schools’ salad bars to ensure students have choices in the cafeteria.

The implementation of healthier food standards is a nationwide initiative brought to fruition by the passing of the federal Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010. Although SDUSD has already been ahead of the curve by adding salad bars to schools before many other districts, the law enables the SDUSD to expand on its existing menu of healthy meal options and employ its “Farm to School program,” ensuring that students receive the highest-quality lunches, breakfasts and snacks to keep them energized throughout the day and improve student performance.

“One of the greatest opportunities we have in San Diego is being able to work with local farmers to bring in local fresh organic product,” said Gary Petill, SDUSD’s food services director, at a school lunch sampling at Pacific Beach Middle School on Aug 28. “This is a movement of making school food in our country healthier for our children.”

For a unique way of getting children to get more of the fruits and vegetables they like, the district will also debut an experimental “dipper bar,” where students can pick up fruits and vegetables to dip into options like hummus, SunButter or corn relish.

“We want kids to be eating well, getting recreation and really feeling good about themselves, that’s what’s so critical,” said U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-53rd Dist.). Davis, who has been taking a legislative stand against childhood obesity, also attended the luncheon. “We want to make sure we are not promoting the kind of eating habits that create kids who are overweight and not able to do the kinds of activities that they should … The days of Sloppy Joes and tater tots are coming to an end.”

The California Endowment, a private health foundation that provides grants to community-based organizations in California, is supporting SDUSD’s pioneering efforts to roll out even healthier menu options and take on the challenge of fighting childhood obesity in the district.
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