New School Lunch Rules

By Mary Nicholson

Aah, back to school time.  I always got a kick out of the Staples commercial where the family is shopping for back to school supplies, and the parents are smiling and frolicking while “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” plays.  And of course, the kids are sulking and looking unhappy.  I’m not sure that’s so typical these days, but there’s still a change in dynamics when it’s time to go back to school.

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It’s Almost Time To Start Thinking About School Lunches

By DeDe Hausmann

Before we know it, kids will be headed back to school.  The National School Lunch Program, which most public/private schools work with (for federal funding), requires that nutritious and economical meals must be prepared.  We work closely with Indiana School Nutrition Directors and cafeteria personnel so we know that they strive to make sure students get great tasting, nutritious and economical meals to enjoy.  Encourage your kids to try school lunches.

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Getting to know Mary Nicholson


What do you do at Indiana Dairy?

My title is Program Coordinator. I work a lot with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program which means being involved with teachers and schools.  I’m also a “liaison” to the Indiana School Nutrition Association.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I get to work with some pretty incredible people.  Every day is different, and it’s certainly not boring!  I enjoy going into a variety of schools all across the state.  I especially enjoy our Great Grow Along program, which allows me an opportunity to talk directly to students.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I grew up in southern Illinois (Centralia), the youngest of 5, and graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Food and Nutrition.  I’ve worked in institutional food service (state mental health center, hospital, and nursing home) before starting a part-time job with the National Dairy Council in Rosemont, IL, in 1988.  That lasted until our family moved to Indianapolis in December of 1998. In 2000, I started working for Indiana Dairy on a part-time basis.  Now that my two children are in college (IUPUI and Purdue), I’ve been working full time. I’ve been married for nearly 29 years (where did the time go?) to J.T.

Tell us a little about someone who has influenced your life and why?

It’s difficult to narrow this down to one person!  Either there have been a number who have influenced me or I’m easily influenced – maybe some of each.  I was definitely influenced early on by a wonderful babysitter who made the best chicken and noodles and had the best lap.  My parents laid a firm foundation while growing up, and various friends and family have had an impact since then.

Do you have a favorite recipe or restaurant to share?

Again, something else that’s difficult to narrow down to one.  If we’re talking Italian, Iaria’s is one of my favorites.  Pat Flynn’s also has awesome soups and sandwiches, plus they always include a warm cookie!


National School Breakfast Week

By Mary Nicholson

Once again, it’s time to celebrate School Breakfast Week, and this year’s theme is The Search for Super Energy. The “School Breakfast Detectives” campaign allows students to “clue into” the importance of school breakfast and will demonstrate how eating school breakfast sets you up for a busy day at school.

This fun private-eye themed campaign has a design contest and a number of nutrition puzzles so kids can become school breakfast detectives for themselves.

National School Breakfast Week was launched in 1989 to raise awareness of the availability of breakfast at school.  Not every school has the ability to offer breakfast at school, but for those who do, it’s a great opportunity that’s sometimes overlooked or underutilized.  We’ve all heard “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and it is so true.  Not only does it provide you with fuel for your brain first thing in the morning, studies are showing that breakfast skippers are twice as likely to be overweight.  And when breakfast is missed, the nutrients that are missed are not made up during the day.  One study ( Lluch, Physiol & Behav 2000; 68:515) noted that skipped energy at breakfast is not made up —   hunger, preoccupation with food and food cravings linger — even at day’s end. Continue reading

National School Lunch Week

By: Mary Nicholson

It’s time for lunch, and you’re the cook.  Are you ready for your guests to arrive?  You better have plenty of room because you’ll be serving about 31,000,000 mouths!  That’s how many students are served lunch every day in schools across the country who participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).  The week of October 11-15 is National School Lunch Week, an annual celebration of the NSLP, This yearly occasion was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 to highlight the important, positive role of school lunch in our country.

Though there were a variety of feeding programs in various cities since the late 1800’s, the National School Lunch Act of 1946 created the modern school lunch program through the US Department of Agriculture.  Approximately 7.1 million children were participating in the National School Lunch Program by the end of its first year, 1946‐47. Since the modern program began, more than 219 billion lunches have been served.

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World School Milk Day

Create a Healthier World

Celebrate the 11th Annual World School Milk Day (WSMD) on Wednesday, September 29!

What is it? An international, annual event that celebrates the importance of school milk in children’s diets. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations actively supports and promotes it.

Who celebrates? Countries throughout the world! In the past, over 40

countries representing every continent celebrated, including Germany, India, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, China, Iceland, Finland, Croatia, Indonesia and Oman.

Why celebrate World School Milk Day? It’s a way to focus on helping children make healthy beverage choices and to bring our world closer

together, thereby raising children’s global awareness.

What’s more, both flavored and white milk provide calcium and eight other essential nutrients that growing children need. Research shows that children who drink milk at school are more likely to meet their daily nutrient needs.

Milk provides three of the five nutrients the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize as being low in children’s diets – calcium, magnesium and potassium.

How do other countries celebrate? Celebrations are unique to each country and involve children in a variety of ways. In previous years:

  • Children from across Australia entered a creative drawing, writing and photography contest. Winning entries were displayed at the Royal Melbourne Show and on Australia’s Discover Dairy Web site.
  • State-wide School Milk Clubs were launched in various schools in Gujarat, India. Eighty schools also participated in a “Milky Way to a Stronger Nation” painting competition. The best three entries received prizes from this His Holy Highness, Lalji Maharaaj Shree Nrigendraprasadji.
  • Over 6,000 children in China participated in an online nutrition competition that had 15 percent of the questions related to milk.
  • Two daylong dairy carnivals in Lahore and Karachi, Pakistanused fun-filled activities that highlighted the benefits of drinking milk to launch a School Milk Ambassador Program.
  • In Zagreb, Croatia, children gathered in the main square to celebrate milk with pictures, songs, and milk and dairy foods tastings.
  • Milk was distributed to over 3,600 children in Oman.

Do South Bend School Meal Programs Make the Grade?

By Stefany Jones, Dietetics Intern, Purdue University

The National School Lunch Program provides meals for over 30 million children in the US every day.  Everywhere you look, school meals have come under more scrutiny by the media, parents, students, and those concerned with the health of our youth. Recently, Newsweek issued a “Back to School” feature article highlighting school lunch deficiencies and improvements across the country, and just last week, the South Bend Tribune featured “Send the School Menu to Detention”, written by a seventh grader concerned with the fat content of meals at LaSalle Intermediate Academy in South Bend. Wanting to know more, I set out to interview some of the people involved in meal planning and preparation, as well as observe and experience, for myself, some of our local school meal offerings.

I first stopped at Monroe Primary to observe their breakfast program and to tour the facility with Karen Case, Nutrition Facilitator for South Bend Community Schools.

As I entered the cafeteria, the smell of citrus greeted us. Tables full of students and breakfast trays brimming with milk, oranges, cereal, and breakfast sandwiches filled the room. Moving along to the breakfast line, children began assembling their meal by choosing a carton of milk from boxes of low fat, fat-free, white and flavored milks. Reduced-sugar versions of kids’ favorite cereals, like “Frosted Flakes” and fiber-containing “Total Raisin Bran” were also available. Instead of cereal, students could choose a breakfast sandwich consisting of half of an English muffin topped with an egg, turkey Canadian bacon, and reduced fat cheese. Finally, breakfast-eers could choose a fruit in fresh form or as 4 oz. of calcium and vitamin D fortified 100% fruit juice. Behind the scenes in the kitchen, not a fryer was in sight! “Not a bad breakfast!” said my dietetics intern inner-voice.

On to lunch.

I then ventured on to LaSalle Intermediate Academy for lunch. First, I grab my fat-free milk. Hmm…today’s entrée choices? Filet of fish on a whole wheat bun (tartar sauce, optional) and beef tacos (Karen said that all beef is well drained of fat before it’s included in an entrée). Not being in the mood for either of those, I opted for a pre-made romaine-blend salad (offered daily) topped with chicken, shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and reduced-fat Ranch dressing. Next, I grabbed an apple from the basket loaded with 4 different fresh fruits daily.  Then, it was time to sit, eat, and mingle with Karen and the kids!

Periodically, school meals are analyzed by a state agency Registered Dietitian for adherence to the USDA’s strict nutrition standards for school meal programs. And how did South Bend’s program measure up? “We were a bit low on calories…our fat content was only slightly over the 30% fat requirement, but our saturated fat fell below the requirement, which is great!” said Karen. Among the school lunch program’s recent improvements, “We’re now offering more fresh fruit and vegetables instead of just canned, and we’re incorporating more whole grain breads.”  Karen says she’s currently working with dairy processors to lower the sugar content in their flavored milks. “We’re always striving to improve the nutrition of our menu offerings,” she adds.

In my opinion, breakfast and lunch both offered tasty and healthy menu options.  What grade would the students give the lunch program? One LaSalle Academy fifth-grader said, “I’d give it an ‘A’ or ‘B’.”