DISD Cafeterias are Looking Mighty Svelte These Days. Get Ready to Eat Your Veggies Kids.

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Were you a lunch line kid? I was mostly, until Smithville ISD put in a "snack line," which allowed the kids who could afford it to eat pizza and french fries every day, while the others went through the line. In retrospect, it was wrong. Every bit of it. I hope they don't still do that.

The scenario still plays out though. In my particular experience, it's through the a la carte items kids pay extra for, like ice cream. While one kid is stuck with the standard lunch, the kid next to him may be eating his fourth Blue Bell Great Divide of the week (half vanilla, half chocolate).

In one of my "that mom" moves, I called the office last year and asked, "Is it really a good idea to allow first graders to buy Blue Bell at their own discretion? They don't need it, and it separates the haves from the have-nots."

My question was basically ignored. No, wait, not "basically." It was absolutely ignored. Most people don't like calls like that. (Disclaimer: it wasn't DISD.)

I understand they have bigger fish to fry. Or do they?

Dora Rivas is the executive director of Food and Child Nutrition Services (FCNS) at DISD, and she would certainly argue it's one of the most important aspects of a kid's day. She's charged with making sure that more than 155,000 students get at least one nutritious meal everyday during the school year.

The FCNS updated its playbook per some new federal standards laid out by the USDA. Here are some things the kids will have to look forward to:

• Age-appropriate calorie limits
• Requirement to take at least one serving of vegetables or fruit (previously kids could refuse)
• A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red and orange vegetables and legumes
• Fat-free ofr 1 percent milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)
• More whole grains
• Less sodium

Rivas pointed out they're working at incorporating vegetables that kids actually enjoy eating.

"Last year we did a taste study with the students and gave them a choice of red, green or yellow bell peppers," Rivas said. "And they chose red peppers, so we have a vegetables salad with red peppers."

Also, Rivas explained that DISD has more than 20 school gardens that students work in, doing tasks from preparing the soil to harvesting fruits and vegetables, then they get to see the food incorporated in the school cafeteria.

"Principals who participate in the program," Rivas said, "definitely find a link between the students experience in the garden and choosing fresh vegetables in the lunchroom."

That makes me want to do cartwheels down the hallway.

I asked about vending machines, and Rivas explained they're supposed to be on timers so that students can't buy from them during lunchtime. Also, candy is prohibited from campus vending machines, but the other day while visiting a school Rivas saw some with candy. She's called a meeting with vendors to make sure they understand the district policy.

Rivas said parents need to be aware that school meals increased by a quarter this year, $1.25 for breakfast and $1.75 for lunch, and she encourages parents to apply for free and reduced lunches on line.

Just for grins, I looked at the menu. Who would have ever thought a fruit and yogurt parfait and hummus plate would be offered as school lunches? There are also still things like hamburgers, chicken tenders and nachos. But, at least there are healthy options.

The menu is also color-coded with green to red that represents "Go, Slow and WHOA!"

One quick question, when did Friday stop being pizza day?

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33 comments
beda50
beda50

If you have access, you should watch Jamie Oliver's series.  He came twice to the U.S. - once to Virginia (?) and once to L.A., trying to overhaul the lunch rooms.  Very very interesting to watch.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

In San Antonio there were enchiladas on Wednesday, sloppy joes on Thursday, and fish sticks on Friday.  No soda pop but plenty of chocolate milk.  In my senior year of high school they lowered the drinking age to 18 and from then on it was a quick trip to Pizza Inn for all you can eat pizza and $1.25 pitchers of Michelob.  Life was grand.

 

The vendors may take out the carbonated beverages but they are replacing the soda with juices, energy drinks, etc. with as much ot more sugar as the sodas.

J_A_
J_A_ topcommenter

I use to eat a bag of sour cream cheddar potato chips & Coke for lunch everyday my freshman year.

lisareneemerito
lisareneemerito

I'm must really old.  Friday was NEVER pizza day in DISD when I was a kid.  It was fish day.

robin312
robin312

Sadly, Friday stopped being pizza day because so many kids get it every other day of the week. Congrats to DISD and Dora Rivas. Now, what are we parents going to complain about? Perhaps it's the other 2 meals we are responsible for that need some attention....

 

Great piece!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

My middle school had a small hometown bakery directly across the street and we were still free-range students back in the '70's.

 

Chocolate filled chocolate donuts and chocolate milk for lunch, three years running...

 

....good times...

bbetzen
bbetzen

"Principals who participate in the program," Rivas said, "definitely find a link between the students experience in the garden and choosing fresh vegetables in the lunchroom."

 

This statement about school gardens is wonderful!  We need more such gardens everywhere.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Good for you L double D, I agree the little ones don't need ice cream at lunch. Does your kid's school have soda pops?   Don't know what kind of stuff we're about to run into out here in Weatherford (WISD did just sign a deal with somebody), but starting tonight at 6pm we'll be finding out.  My baby girl's kindergarden meet and greet...  :(

cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

The only cafeteria line I want to go through in Smithville is Zimmerhanzel's.

Jake_Stone
Jake_Stone

I have sent a petition to my local representative asking him to sponsor new legislation to outlaw the use of the non-word 'veggie' by anyone over the age of four. Because really. Isn't that a week one lesson in journalism school? "Only use words that actually exist outside of vapid toddler babble".

 

Seriously. Are we adults?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

And this new comment software still sucks.  Unusable on the phone, buggy all over, no edit function crappy layout.  Who is the moronic imbecile who made this decision.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @lisareneemerito LOL.  *raises hand*  Catholic elementary schooler, here. 

 

Yep. EVERY Friday was fishstick Friday. *blech*  Absolutely cannot STAND those things, now.

laurendrewesdaniels
laurendrewesdaniels

 @lisareneemerito No... you're not old. I'm just not a product of DISD and I assummed (and yes, we know what that does), that Friday-pizza day was universal. My bad. 

beda50
beda50

 @TheCredibleHulk

 Mountain Dew and cinnamon rolls for breakfast for several years in junior/high school.  Fortunately, I'm old enough that processed/packaged food  weren't prevalent, or fast-food restaurants, for that matter. I ate healthy at home and that has carried over to my adult diet.

laurendrewesdaniels
laurendrewesdaniels

 @Joshsbrokendisqus I'm doing the exact same thing with my baby boy tonight. Yes, it will be sad. Will you cry the first day? I probably will. Well, actually, I just teared up thinking about it, so suppose I will. 

J_A_
J_A_ topcommenter

 @Jake_Stone It's funny when people with certain accents say "veggies" because it sounds like "wedgies" and "vegetables" becomes "wedgitables"

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @beda50 Same here. My parents always had a huge vegetable garden and I was raised in dairy farm country with lots of friends and relatives that lived on real, working family farms. There was always beef, pork, poultry and fresh dairy products around when I was coming up and that's how I eat now, too.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk

 @laurendrewesdaniels I've altered my eating habits somewhat since then as my metabolism has *ahem* matured. I don't guess that it has had too much of an adverse effect, and those choc/choc donuts from Van Thull's were F'ing unbelievable.

 

I wouldn't trade the experience for the little extra padding I've got now. So: No.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

Welp I found out last night, there isn't any vending machines in our lil one's campus.  I wanted a bottle water, and a nice teacher lady pointed me towards the water fountain.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

 @laurendrewesdaniels I'll let you know on Monday about the crying and also about the trip to Franklin's BBQ  Saturday morning and Willie at BeeCave on Saturday night! Last weekend without school-aged children. 

Jake_Stone
Jake_Stone

 @laurendrewesdaniels It's not you this time.... Rivas though. What's even worse is that this woman works for a school district? Basic language skills should be required for anyone in school administration.

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

I haven't had a chance to read this months yet, I did see on the cover it was about how to raise a Texan.  I don't look forward to it getting tougher, last night was kinda rough.

Storm_71
Storm_71

We just got back from my son's meet the teacher as well. Where has the time gone?????

laurendrewesdaniels
laurendrewesdaniels

 @Jake_Stone And... for the record. Twice I transcribed "veggies" and she actually said "vegetables." So, Mr. Stone, you win and I corrected Mrs. Rivas' quotes in the story above. 

laurendrewesdaniels
laurendrewesdaniels

 @Jake_Stone It was a conversation. She didn't write it, I spoke to her on the phone. I just read through my notes that I took while speaking to her and she used both words. I wrote in short-hand some, and in my notes, I sometimes just wrote "veg." She might have actually said "vegetable" more often. So, I wouldn't go as far as writing your representative just yet. She's a very smart, well-spoken and, more importantly, is very commited to the main goal of getting 155K public school kids a healthy meal everyday. 

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