Stars to Shine in Dover School Cafes

An excellent meeting all around, Jim McBride, Director of Information and Systems, and Misty Smalley, Client Services Manager of Guiding Stars, a nutrition navigation system, gave an hour long presentation and question answer session for the council. By the end, all members were seemingly onboard with trying to incorporate Guiding Stars or some form of it into Dover school cafeterias.

The council met on January 22, 2009 at Dover high school.  Before this gathering, it was thought that the UNH dietetic interns would recalculate the nutritional information for all menu items and then create a labeling system to help Dover school students choose healthful or not so healthful, foods from the offered selection. Moving forward, the council has decided to have the interns take digital photos (entire food label and packaging information) of all products served, categorize items (combine labels that create a menu item, name the item and mark serving size)and then house this organized information for future use when collaborating with Guiding Stars. Since the meeting, the interns have taken hundreds of photos and are in the process of organizing the data.

Guiding Stars uses evidence based algorithms to formulate food debits like trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugars and credits vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and whole grains. The system rates foods either no rating, one star (good), two (better), or three stars (best) according to the nutritional density of the food.  The representatives shared that the system is not a weight loss program, but a fair and consistent way of looking at overall nutrition. For example, walnuts are high in calories, but the calories come from a nutrient dense food that provides good fat, vitamins and fiber. Guiding Stars is a subsidiary of Hannaford, but they are branded separately, the grocery chain brand would not accompany printed material placed in the schools. For more information on Guiding Stars, check out the Web site www.guidingstars.com.

Immediate action, all food products containing peanut butter were removed from district food service thanks to the national peanut butter recall. A Blakely, Ga., plant, owned by Peanut Corp. of America, violated health inspection violations and released peanut paste tainted with salmonella. The district worked under the direction of the State of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health Services.

Old news, the committee continues to look into grant options and has applied for one as of this meeting, and the subcommittee continues to seek funds for health and wellness-based projects.  More information and links to healthy resources are being posted on the district Web site. The high school Eco Club continues to investigate alternative options to Styrofoam usage.  And UNH interns will be meeting with high school student council representatives in the next month to discuss school food menu options. The interns have selected numerous interesting and doable recipes from Fresh from the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook http://www.mass.gov/agr.markets/Farm_to_school. Chosen and approved recipes will be incorporated into the menu end of 2009 school year.

The Dining Facilities Council (wellness committee) will meet again Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 9:00am at Horne Street Elementary School cafeteria.  We await patiently for a thaw, and by the next meeting hope to have some colorful and tasty produce on display in Woodman Park Elementary for the farmers market table and tasting, Garrison and Horne street to follow. A shout out—are there any Seacoast farmers willing to set-up a mini table and answer elementary students’ questions or donate produce? If so, please send an email to amy.winans@gmail.com.  Any collaboration is much appreciated.

In the news:

Obama’s New Chef Skewers School Lunches

By Tara Parker-Pope

January 29, 2009

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/29/new-white-house-chef-skewers-school-lunches/?emc=eta1

Washington, DC based non-profit organization Food & Water Watch is launching a campaign to get rBGH-free (artificial hormone free) and organic milk into the National School Lunch Program.

For more information on this campaign you can go to: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/school-milk

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