Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

School District's Food Department Wins Area Award

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

School District's Food Department Wins Area Award

Article excerpt

Elementary students in the Fort Zumwalt School District who sometimes get breakfast for lunch and high schoolers who now and again really eat make-it-yourself chef salads can thank the food service department for making school meals fun.

The Fort Zumwalt food service department has won a nine-state regional award for menu creativity to encourage more students to eat lunch at school. The Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the award.

"It's a nice honor," said Penny Bryant, director of food services. "My staff is as involved as anyone in trying to provide fun food for kids and still keep the meals as nutritious as they can. We try to find ways of preparing foods that contain less sugar, salt and fat.

"You can't offer students tofu and bean sprouts and expect them to eat it. They're not use to that at home," she said.

The award is especially sweet for the Fort Zumwalt District as a sign of marked improvement from four years ago, when consultants were called to help guide the food service department. Superintendent Bernard J. DuBray said the department had worked hard at encouraging students to eat lunch at school but had continued to lose money.

"Our goal has always been for the food service program to pay for itself," DuBray said. "We asked that the American Food Service Association give us some recommendations."

The food service department improved preparation methods and expanded menu ideas, DuBray said. The department was advised to keep abreast of the commercial food service industry and try to pattern those menus while still meeting nutritional guidelines, he said.

As a result, the food service department made money last year, he said.

The fast-food industry sets the tone for school menu planning, Bryant said. But the district staff uses low-fat recipes and ingredients and special preparation methods to gain maximum nutritional value, she said. …

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