School caterers well known in the UK are partnering a fantastic school lunch innovation in New Orleans, USA.
Thirty six per cent of Louisiana school children aged between 10 and 17 years have been shown to be overweight, and those from a minority or low income background are the most affected. Because they eat the majority of their daily calories and around two thirds of their meals at school, changing the school food is a great way to tackle this.
In a bid to address the issue, a New Orleans social enterprise organisation called Propeller: A Force for Innovation is leading an initiative that will deliver more than 10,000 healthy school dinners per day to 28 schools across New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Propeller have received funding for the initiative from a number of trusts including the W.K Kellog Foundation, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools. And in order to deliver the meals, they have partnered with Revolution Foods who have expertise in providing healthy school meals, and KIPP New Orleans Schools to create what they call the School Food Authority.
The programme has set some healthy food standards which the school lunches must comply with, including rules that nothing is fried, that there are no hormones or nitrates in the meat, no canned fruit or veg, and no high-fructose corn syrup. Instead each meal is made from scratch, contains a fresh fruit and vegetable and 5% of the produce must have been sourced from local farmers.
Signing up to provide these meals under these terms are caterers Chartwells, Sodexo, Liberty’s Kitchen and Revolution Foods. For local producers who have traditionally found it hard to break into the farm to school supply chain, it’s a significant step and a great opportunity.
Getting the initiative off the ground has taken three years but feedback on the new lunches has already been great with some teachers reporting that students say they feel more full after their healthier meals, and are paying better attention in afternoon classes.
Getting positive outcomes from the students is one of the programme’s key goals and Propeller have set in place monitoring plans to check food quality, student participation, student behaviours, and their attitudes towards the initiative. The hope is that in the long term this could provide a best practice model of healthy school food provision that could be rolled out on a wider basis across the nation.
For more information you can see the original report here.