A week of free lunch for all Port district students

The Port Washington School District makes a healthier lunch menu

Gaby Chu, Contributing Writer

Throughout the week of Sept. 11, the Port Washington School District offered free lunch to all students in order to introduce new healthy lunch menu items.  All students in the district gave students up to five free lunches as a part a healthy meal initiative for the 2017-2018 school year.

Port Washington Food Services presented new options and changes to the district menu.  By providing students with free meals, the schools hoped to promote healthy eating and get more children involved in buying lunch at school.

During the week of free lunch, students received a free “reimbursable meal,” valid for one entree per person.  Each free meal consisted of three of the following: a meat or meat alternative, a whole grain, a fruit, a vegetable, and milk.  At least one of the choices was required to be either a fruit or vegetable.

“I think free lunch is great and it gives opportunities for people who aren’t fortunate enough normally to try the school meals,” said junior Katy DuCharme.

Numerous people have contributed to the changes in food services for this upcoming school year.  Many of these adjustments came as a result of parents of students working in conjunction with the district’s food service consultant to build a healthier menu for their children.

“The committee and the district are constantly trying to improve nutrition in our cafeterias and also wanted to offer more of a variety of foods to our students,” said Assistant Business Administrator Ms. Jessica Mack.

This week of free lunch was a way to showcase all of the work that food service administrators have put into creating a new and improved food menu, as well as allow students to sample school meals, even if they have never bought lunch from school before.

“By providing free lunch, the district is creating an incentive for students to eat healthy lunch from the schools, which is really smart,” said junior Julia Bischoff.

The movement to create healthier lunch items and expand the current menu includes the decision to add new food items as well as remove foods that contain certain ingredients.  Foods such as Greek yogurt and antibiotic and hormone-free meatballs are on the list of items being adding to the district menu. Panini pressed sandwiches will be offered at Schreiber, while other grilled items will be offered at both Schreiber and Weber.

At the elementary schools, new snack alternatives such as fresh popcorn, fresh berry cups, and homemade fresh berry smoothies will be offered in place of gummy snacks.  “Farm Fresh Fridays” will be offered once a month, providing local and wholesome options for students.  On the other hand, foods with artificial color and flavors, artificial sweeteners, palm oil, partially hydrogenated oils, bleached flour, and other ingredients will be taken off the menu.

“Free lunch at Schreiber is great and appeals to students who have never purchased lunch at the school cafeteria and gives them an opportunity to try the school meals for free,” said junior Karen Kohama.   

In addition to creating a healthier menu in schools for students to enjoy, another change for the school district in terms of food services this year is to expand the menu in order to meet the demands for lunch items that focus on a broader range of cultures. Overall, many students are on board with the decision to create a healthier menu and enjoyed the week of free lunch.

“Our goal was to expose as many students as possible to our new and healthy menu changes,” said Ms. Jessica Mack.  “We are so happy that so many students took advantage of our promotion and hope that they continue to enjoy our offerings.”