“Healthy eating has been linked to higher grades, better memory, more alertness, faster information processing and improved health leading to better school attendance,” registered dietitian Elisa Zied, author of Feed Your Family Right.
Whether students buy school lunch or bring it from home, what they choose to eat affects how they learn. The most important thing is to have our kids fueled with the nutrition they need to be able to focus and learn. Federal guidelines ensure school lunch programs include offerings that comply with the nutritional standards set by the US government. Park City Child Nutrition Services Department, supported by EATS, has gone beyond the mandated guidelines to bring in local, seasonal foods, more variety of offerings, and the beginning of an evolution to Homemade Meals. By properly selecting foods from these offerings, Park City students will consume the nutrition they need to be healthy and learn better.
Not only are the food offerings changing in Park City schools, EATS volunteers are working on evolving students’ eating habits as well. In the lunchrooms and the classrooms, the EATS team teaches kids about making healthier choices. Volunteers sit and eat with kids as role models to teach kids to practice good eating. They have creative conversations about food, nutrition, effects of food on the body and food sources. For the older students, guest chefs, nutritionists and dietitians share similar information with appropriate learning methods and levels. Having community adult role models talking about healthy eating in our schools is an effective way to change behaviors in our Park City students.
The Child Nutrition Services Department functions as a self-sustaining entity within the Park City School District. No local tax dollars funds the school food program. Revenue sources are federal reimbursements, state liquor tax and breakfast and lunch sales. As with any business, the more customers who purchase the product, the more profit. Different from a business however, the school food program is not designed to be a profitable entity. Any profit dollars are returned into the program through purchases of higher quality food, additional labor and equipment. Therefore purchases of school lunch help the entire school food program becomes more financially viable which in turn leads to the ability to provide higher quality foods.