Menus make a healthy change at Basalt schools |

Menus make a healthy change at Basalt schools

Katie ReddingThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

BASALT You wont find chocolate milk in any school lunchroom in Basalt this year or Carbondale, or Glenwood Springs, for that matter. At first we did get quite an uproar from kids, said Michelle Hammond, the new director of food service for the Roaring Fork School District.But the uproar has tapered off, she said, and the district is starting to see more milk purchases. The district is taking little, gradual steps toward healthier lunches, said Hammond unlike the Garfield and Aspen school districts, which completely revamped their lunch programs this year. French fries and potato chips have gone by the wayside, for example, replaced by local, organic apples and oranges. Still, the district still serves two processed lunches a week. Thats because food directors are required to buy their federal commodities the year prior, Hammond explained. Last years director purchased many processed foods, so now she must use them up. The district also still sells snack items at its middle and high schools. School lunch activists often argue that such sales are the greatest contributors to unhealthy eating habits among students. On the other hand, Hammond recently replaced some of the districts meat with local hormone and antibiotic-free beef, thanks to an anonymous $5,000 donation. Alongside Hammond, a group of Basalt Elementary School parent lunch reformers also have worked toward healthier lunches. The parents recently organized parent volunteers in the lunchrooms so first- and second-grade students could eat from the salad bar, for example. Involving parents has also helped get the word out about the federal lunch program restrictions, said district Superintendent Judy Haptonstall. Parents say why don’t you provide all this fresh stuff? she explained. Well we can’t just charge whatever they want to. So far, according to Hammond, the lunch changes have been funded through donations, grants and by simply making changes in how she spends money. For example, next year the district will buy food in bulk and store it in a warehouse belonging to the Mesa County Valley School District. Its a move she expects will save the district $6,000 a year. And on Feb. 17, New York-based school lunch consultant Kate Adamick will visit each cafeteria in the district. Shell recommend how cafeterias can change their purchases, equipment or recipes in order to cook healthier lunches on existing budgets. The visit is sponsored by Aspen-based Childrens Health Foundation and funded by the Colorado health Foundation.

Kate Adamick, the school lunch consultant, will hold lunch meetings with parents at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17 at Basalt Elementary School and at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.18 at Crystal River Elementary

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