Hawaii’s school district is making strides in the right direction when it comes to school food. As the 10th-largest and only state-wide school system in the U.S., Hawaii serves over 100,000 meals to students daily. Currently, 10 meals are made from scratch out of the 25-meal monthly cycle. By August of this year, 15 of the 25 monthly meals will be made from scratch. Directer of the school food services branch Glenna Owens says, “the mission is to have less processed food and use basic ingredients instead of opening up a box and heating up something.”
This is a great move for kids in Hawaii. Most of school food currently being served to students is highly processed, with high levels of fat, sugar and sodium. Making fresh food from scratch allows meals to be healthier with more nutrients, and cuts down the levels of unhealthy things that contribute to childhood obesity.
Making food from scratch for school lunches is a challenge. Cutting fresh vegetables for hundreds of children and cooking everything just right is a task that requires extra training for lunchroom workers. It is also more labor-intensive than reheating frozen chicken nuggets or pizza. But it is certainly worth the time and effort. As the incidences of obesity continue to rise, it is important for the food children see in the cafeteria to reflect the education about nutrition that they see in the classroom.
Hawaii’s school district is a great example. Although some meals will still be processed, open-and-reheat meals, over half of the monthly meals will be cooked from scratch. Other school districts should certainly take note and learn from Hawaii’s example.
For more information, check out Fooducate’s blog on this subject.