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Show Me: School Lunch
School cafeterias look different this year. At Wagner Middle School, the square tables are arranged to maximize the distance between students. Each table is equipped with two-to-four chairs and a clear barrier. The barrier is designed to maximize student safety, while giving them the opportunity to do what students enjoy most at lunchtime, visit with their friends. Blue circles on the floor indicate where students should stand in line as they wait to be served. But once they make their way to the front of the line, the scene is much more familiar - students are still greeted by a friendly face, nutritious food and plenty of tasty options from which to choose.
Annually in October, National School Lunch Week is observed to promote the importance of healthy school lunch in a child’s life and the impact nutritious meals have inside and outside of the classroom. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced challenges school nutrition staff have never faced before, but it has also shed even more light on the important role school meals play in the lives of students and their families.
Georgetown ISD’s district head chef Dustin Seymour said he’s proud of the work the district’s nutrition staff has done in the midst of recent challenges.
“The district did a great job, starting with this summer,” he said. “We were out on the front lines feeding the kids and community at curbside so there wasn’t a lapse in service.”
When GISD schools closed their doors in the spring, Seymour and his team mobilized to provide drive-through service to GISD families. That service continued into the summer and into the 2020-21 school year. Families who elect to learn remotely still have the opportunity to pick up school meals at campuses in the drive-through line. Seymour said that by making adjustments and retraining students and staff, GISD nutrition staff are able to provide the expected excellent level of experience and service at lunchtime.
Part of the importance of National School Lunch Week, Seymour said, is educating students on their nutritional choices and promoting the understanding that nutritious meals are also tasty meals.
GISD’s district dietitian, Teri Balog, explained the core features of nutritious meals for GISD students.
“The meals have lean protein, good sources of whole grains (and) excellent sources of fruits and vegetables,” Balog said.
In GISD, families not only have the opportunity to view lunch menus ahead of time, but they can also view the complete nutrition information of their food options through Nutrislice. The Nutrislice platform is available online, and the app can be downloaded in the app store on Apple and other devices.