2018 National School Lunch Week shines spotlight on importance of good food

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Cheers and laughter echoed around the room as Mandarin Immersion Magnet School students rushed to the cafeteria for lunch on Wednesday.

Many of the students were eager to select a lunch option from “Student Favorites,” a special menu featuring pizza, chicken sandwiches, and fresh salads served as part of National School Lunch Week.

“The salads are good,” said fifth-grader Brady Gastineau about the salad bar implemented at his school as part of a districtwide initiative to make them available in every school by the spring. “I like that you can choose what you want to put on them.”

Observed nationally from Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, National School Lunch Week is designed to promote the benefits of the National School Lunch Program, a federal program that provides nutritionally balanced meals to students at low or no cost.

This special week provides the perfect opportunity to highlight the mission of Nutrition Services—providing students with access to good food that is simple, wholesome, colorful, and made with locally sourced ingredients.

“We let our kids know the importance of eating good food,” said HISD Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins. “We celebrate all food, and we show students how to eat healthier.”

HISD celebrated the week by hosting sticker giveaways at all district elementary schools and Lucky Lunch Tray Contests for students at nine select middle and high schools.

“I like the variety of choices for my students,” said Principal Chaolin Chang, adding that he was working with Nutrition Services to incorporate international food options into his school menu. “The idea of having Chinese food come onto the menu is exciting.”

Nutrition Services staff assigned to the school were spotlighted Wednesday by local media as journalists went on a behind-the-scenes tour designed to showcase the work that goes into preparing and serving good food to students every day.

“I enjoy seeing how proud my team feels this time of year,” said HISD Nutrition Services Operations Manager Kory Keimig, noting that his employees work hard but are not often in the spotlight. “They get really excited.”