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What’s for Breakfast and Lunch? Healthy and Nutritious Student Favorites Back on the Menu

As the school day continues to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, the routine is also stabilizing in the school cafeteria serving line. Redwood City School District (RCSD) students are visiting the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch finding some of their favorites that have been missing since the spring of 2020 when the district implemented at-home and distance learning due to COVID-19. 

“It’s quite exciting to see how some faces brighten up when they see some of their favorite menu items as they come through the cafeteria line,” says Anna Lague, the school district’s dietitian, speaking about the student reception when they find some familiar items. “Because we know that today’s students have sophisticated palates, all of our menu items are student-approved. We follow the USDA nutritional guidelines and prepare meals that are tasty, kid-friendly, and nutritious.”

The RCSD Child Nutrition Services team has always focused on serving healthy, nutritious, and balanced meals that provide the energy that students need to succeed in school throughout each day of learning, playing, and exercising. However, as COVID-19 forced schools to pivot and teach students from home, the cafeteria was also forced to pivot and  temporarily shift its serving model to pre-packaging family meals with non-perishable goods that families picked up from select school sites weekly. 

Student Walks Through Cafeteria Line

Child Nutrition Services has been hard at work this school year bringing back some of the meal items that have long been a student favorite, including:

  • Yogurt Parfait
    The yogurt parfait fuels students’ body and brain to tackle the school day. This kid-approved item is packed with nutrients such as calcium, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

  • Freshly-Baked Whole Grain Muffins
    Once a week, child nutrition staff bake whole grain muffins, which are served during recess, causing students to become overjoyed as they smell the aroma from the cafeteria. While the muffins may look similar to the store-bought products, the whole grain baked goods contain a much higher amount of fiber. Staff also bakes them with fresh fruit.

  • Pupusa with Curtido

    Naturally-Cured Turkey Hot Dog on a Whole Grain Bun
    Preserved without artificial nitrates or nitrites, the antibiotic and hormone-free turkey hot dog has always been a student favorite. The hot dog has been off the menu for quite some time, which means younger students who had not enrolled with RCSD since 2020, will be pleasantly surprised to find this menu item approved by their older school mates. 

  • Pozole
    In RCSD, pozole, a traditional Mexican stew, is made with all white chicken breast, hominy, lemon juice, blended chilis, and garlic seasoning, which enhance flavor, while reducing the high sodium content that a traditional recipe may have. 

Plate of two enchiladas

In addition to the items students recognize, the district is also adding several other dishes to the cafeteria serving line including whole-grain pupusa with curtido, low-fat cheese tamale with pinto beans, and vegetarian whole-grain enchiladas made from scratch. For breakfast, organic cereal is also a new item. 

In RCSD, students have the final say on which items are placed on the menu after the items go through a taste-testing process. After the item or recipe meets regulations provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Child Nutrition Services (CNS) staff will hold taste-testing events during lunch for students to provide feedback. 

The USDA regulations require that saturated fat must be less than 30% of calories, the grains must be whole (such as brown rice as opposed to white and whole grain tortillas as opposed to white), a variety of fruits and different colored vegetables must be offered, and sodium (salt) is restricted. Only lowfat or nonfat flavored cow's milk can be offered. Breakfast is required to contain 350-500 calories and lunch has a total of 550-650 calories.

RCSD families can learn about the nutrients in the menu items by visiting My School Menu on the Child Nutrition Services section on the district website.

Apple Slices