Lovejoy ISD Welcomes Input on Cafeteria Food

Lovejoy ISD Welcomes Input on Cafeteria Food

If one did not realize they had entered the cafeteria of Sloan Creek Intermediate School, they might have thought they were cozying up to a cruise ship buffet. Outlining the cafeteria were food brokers ready to serve a variety of food choices such as sliced beef Philly sandwiches, Tikka Masala sauce, bean and cheese burritos, vegetable samosas, confetti pancakes, whole grain dill flavored chicken fillets, low sodium grilled chicken breast fillets, whole grain breaded orange chicken bites, a wide variety of pizzas and so much more.

Mat McCarty, Lovejoy ISD Director of Student Nutrition, explained that this is the first year for the Lovejoy Nutrition Food Show, which was held on February 2 from 1-3pm. Regarding the goal of the event, McCarty said, “As a department, our main goal is to provide for the nutritional well-being of our students through healthy, quality meals that are appetizing and encourage student participation in our school lunch program. The food show will allow us to showcase several new items available from our food brokers and will allow the students and parents to pick the new items they would like to see on the school menus. I can't think of a better way to encourage student participation in our lunch program than to involve them in the decision making process.”

Jennifer Orshalick and Jamie Cooper both have children that attend LISD. They were appreciative of LISD providing this opportunity to give feedback and were impressed with the variety of food options at the show.

McCarty explained how the input from the food show will be utilized, “We have seven of our food brokers coming to the food show who will be displaying several new items. The students and parents will be given "tasty tickets" that they will place in a bucket if they liked the sampled item. The most popular items will be those with the most tickets. The information will be used when planning future menus.”

Currently the most popular lunch menu items within LISD are breakfast for lunch, chicken nuggets and pizza at the elementary schools and Build You Own (BYO) concepts such as BYO pasta bowl, Asian bowl, sandwich and burritos at the secondary schools.

Nutritional requirements must meet federal nutrition standards if they are on the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) said McCarty. He added, “When developing menus, our registered dietitian ensures they meet the nutrition standards. The nutrition standards include calorie ranges based on grade groups, whole grain requirements, sodium and fat restrictions, and several food component requirements (milk, fruit, vegetables, grains, meat/meat alternates).”

In order to determine how many meals cafeterias prepare on a daily basis, McCarty said, “We complete daily production records that mirror our menus and outlines the amount/number of each item made for the day. The production records give us a history so when the menu day cycles around again we have a good idea of how many meals we will need to prepare. We also batch cook during lunch service which produces a fresher product and allows us to make adjustments if needed.” Regarding leftovers, McCarty said, “We try to minimize leftovers but when we do have them we will offer them as an extra menu item the next day. “

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