School Lunch Success in Austin, TX

Want to make an impact on what your kids are eating in their school lunchroom? Get inspiration from a school district in Texas!

Back to school time brings a flurry of activity, from shopping for supplies to getting back into the swing of family meal planning. Since there’s lots of buzz surrounding school lunches these days, we thought we’d share some exciting things that are being done by Chef Steven Burke and the Austin Independent School District (A.I.S.D.) in Austin, Texas.Chef Steven Burke is the School Food Service Chef for A.I.S.D. He develops new recipes based on student preferences and trends, reviews feedback from student focus groups, presents to parents and works with local chefs for “Local Chefs – Local Fresh” that includes school visits. He also works closely with the Sustainable Food Center and the Farm to School program in Austin.

A.I.S.D. participates in the Eat Smart portion of the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program, which was developed by University of Texas researchers who are on staff at the Dell Center for The Advancement of Healthy Living. The cornerstone of the CATCH program is teaching students to select foods using a stoplight metaphor. Foods are categorized as either GO, SLOW or WHOA.GO foods are those lowest in fat with no added sugar and are less processed than other foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fat-free and low-fat dairy products with no added sugar are all examples of GO foods.

SLOW foods are higher in fat and sugar, and they are more processed. Reduced-fat plain milk and dairy products, reduced-fat processed meats, refined grains and foods that are prepared with added fat or sugar are all examples of SLOW foods.

WHOA foods are highest in fat and sugar, and they are the most processed. Whole milk, meats that are high in fat, fried foods and foods prepared with large amounts of added fat and sugar are all examples of WHOA foods.

Students are taught that a healthy diet consists mostly of GO foods, fewer SLOW foods, and rarely WHOA foods. At A.I.S.D., different menus are developed for each school level to serve foods that students are familiar with in the healthiest versions possible. Then newer items are introduced annually to provide students an opportunity to broaden their food experience.  For more detailed menu information, peruse the Austin Independent School District lunch menus opens in a new tab.Want to see more pictures? Check out Chef Burke’s photos opens in a new tab on flickr.This year, the first ever National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day opens in a new tab will take place on October 12th during National School Lunch Week. Will you participate?

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