15 LCPS Schools Win Big With School Garden Scholarships

This spring, School Nutrition Services and Loudoun County Health Department (LCHD) teamed up to award 15 schools with scholarships to help develop and sustain their school garden programs. The partnership between LCHD and School Nutrition has been ongoing for the past 3 years. They have supported LCPS school garden initiatives by supplying nearly 150 indoor hydroponic self-watering vertical garden towers, soil, seeds, and garden kits to PK – 12 classrooms in the county. Jennifer Brady, Obesity and Chronic Disease Prevention Educator for LCHD, said “Pairing hands-on gardening education with nutrition education has been shown to increase a child’s likelihood to try new vegetables and this is the outcome we have heard anecdotally from teachers. LCPS kids are enjoying kale after growing it in their garden towers much to the surprise of their parents!”

Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, Director of School Nutrition, described the school garden program as “an inter-disciplinary approach to nutrition education accomplished by coordinating school gardens, school cafeterias and physical education provides students with authentic, rich experiences that is helping them make nutritious choices is exciting. Students of all ages and abilities are learning life long positive health habits through the this valuable partnership.”

This year, thanks to funding from the Virginia Department of Health, LCHD provided $15,000 in additional supplies to gardens in 15 schools based on the individual needs of each school. Interested teachers completed an evaluation of their gardens and were able to request funding for the specific items they needed to take their school gardens to the next level. This ranged from lumber and rakes for gardens just starting out to more advanced gardening supplies like permaculture materials. School Nutrition Services utilized some of the funds received from their USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to provide additional supplies and tools to the select schools. They will also work with these schools during the upcoming school year to provide hands-on educational opportunities for the students.

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2018 School Garden Scholarship Winners:

Middleburg Charter Academy: $500
Lovettsville Elementary: $500
Mercer Middle : $1,000
Frederick Douglass Elementary: $3,000
Meadowland Elementary: $1,000
Rolling Ridge Elemetary: $1,000
Heritage High: $500
Loudoun Valley High: $500
Sully Elementary: $1,000
Smarts Mill Middle: $1,000
Cedar Lane Elementary: $500
Belmont Station Elementary: $1,000
JM Lunsford Middle: $1,000
Park View High: $1,000
Pinebrook Elementary: $1,500

For more information on school gardens or the farm to school program in LCPS, contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, SNS at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

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School Nutrition Services Debuts New Vegetarian Items at Creighton’s Corner International Night

Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, Marketing Coordinator

Last month, School Nutrition Services partnered with Creighton’s Corner Elementary to take part in their International Night where 400 students and parents were able to sample and rate eight new vegetarian recipes for consideration on the school lunch menu.

These items included a chickpea stew developed by the School Nutrition Manager, Mayra Rosales, hummus, two versions of paneer from Loudoun-based Cuisine Solutions, yellow rice, mushroom quinoa, Thai-style quinoa and a Moroccan vegetable stew. Attendees were asked to complete a survey form so that the results could be calculated.

Evaluation Form 2017

The success of the event has allowed School Nutrition to implement some of these vegetarian recipes on the menu this month, with others, being added in the spring. School Nutrition has listed to the feedback from students, parents and the community, and have continuously added more hot vegetarian options for all students each day. If you have a recipe that you feel would be a great addition to the menu, please send the recipe to Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

School Nutrition Helps Guilford Elementary Introduce PBL Unit

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Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator

Last week, School Nutrition worked with the third-grade students at Guilford Elementary to kick off their year-long PBL project. The driving question for this unit is “how can we as young chefs, make healthy choices at school and at home?” Stefanie Dove, RDN and Marketing Coordinator, has collaborated with the teachers at Guilford to guide students with this project through a variety of activities from fruit and vegetable taste tests, recipe writing and development, cooking, and menu planning.

The introduce this project, Willowsford Farm and School Nutrition Services donated produce for all third-grade students, teachers and their parents to sample a variety of seasonal produce. The taste party included: broccoli, purple cabbage, radishes, spinach, carrots, apples, pears, roasted squash and beets. All students tried the items together while discussing the importance of trying new foods and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to fuel their bodies with essential vitamins and minerals. At the end of the taste party, 10 students were randomly selected to take bags of produce home with them so that they could encourage their families to try new foods as well.

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For more information on this Project-Based Learning (PBL) project or to collaborate on a project or nutrition education activity, please contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

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School Nutrition Kicks off the Holiday Season with their Annual Harvest Lunch

Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator

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This week, School Nutrition Services hosted their annual Harvest Lunch in all schools across the county to celebrate American Education Week. The meal was served during regular meal times in the schools with some of the holiday staples that many have for their upcoming Thanksgiving meal.

School Nutrition works with their partner, Cuisine Solutions, who is based in Sterling, to provide sous-vide turkey breast for this meal. The School Nutrition staff also made stuffing, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, fresh rolls, steamed broccoli, side salads, fresh vegetable cups, fresh fruit, and also offered a frozen fruit treat made from 100% whole fruit.  For those students who did not want to enjoy the turkey, the department also offered Baked Chicken Bites, Chicken Caesar Salads, Vegetarian Chef Salads, Turkey Chef Salads, Bagel and Yogurt Boxes, and Hummus Meals.

For more information about this event or School Nutrition Services, please visit www.LCPSHealthyCafe.org or email, Stefanie Dove, RDN, Marketing Coordinator at  Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org

Stay Up-to-Date on all SNS events by following us on social media @LCPSCafe

Celebrate Better Breakfast Month With Our Peach Yogurt Parfaits

In honor of Better Breakfast Month, why not celebrate by recreating one of LCPS Cafe’s student favorites: yogurt parfaits! This month, we are sourcing locally grown peaches in some of our schools, so our peach parfaits are always a hit with students.

Here is our easy-to-follow recipe so that you can enjoy these when school is not in session!

2 medium-sized ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups yogurt (we use low-fat vanilla, but you can use can use plain, vanilla, or low-fat Greek, Coconut or regular yogurt)
1/2 cup granola (our students love cinnamon granola)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, toss the peaches with cinnamon and set aside.
  2. Using a 8-12-ounce cup or jar, assemble the parfaits by adding a layer of yogurt (about 1/4 cup) to the bottom.
  3. Next add 3-4 tablespoons of the peaches on top of the yogurt and then add 2-3 tablespoons of granola on top of the peaches.
  4. Repeat layers filling to the top of the cup.
  5. You can top the parfaits with a small spoonful of peaches, a fresh peach slice, or another fruit and a sprinkle with extra granola.

*This recipe makes 2 peach parfaits.

This parfait is the perfect protein-packed snack or meal. The yogurt is filled with protein, calcium and vitamin D and the peaches are loaded with fiber and vitamin C! Granola provides essential carbohydrates students need to fuel their day.  In Loudoun, all of our granola is whole-grain rich, so it is full of fiber to keep them satisfied longer.

In addition to the parfait, students can grab an additional fresh fruit, 100% juice to complete their breakfast.  We also offer parfaits during lunch where they are paired with a whole-grain bagel and low-fat string cheese in addition to their fresh fruit and vegetable options for the day.

For more information about the menu options in Loudoun County, visit www.lcpshealthycafe.org or contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, CDN- School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator at Stefanie.Dove@lcps.org or 571.252.6502

September is Better Breakfast Month

As we gear up for another school year, we can’t forget to fuel our students minds and bodies for the school day! September is Better Breakfast Month and School Nutrition is here to help make sure students across Loudoun County have the nourishment they need for the most important meal of the day. A study conducted by Kellogg’s recently found that about one-third of the 14,000 individuals surveyed found time to fit breakfast into their schedules. Mornings are hectic and everyone is in a rush to get to school and to get out the door as quickly as possible. Don’t make breakfast an afterthought.  Let school nutrition check that breakfast off of your morning “to-do” list! All schools in the district offer breakfast daily for students. We serve a variety of items from whole grain gourmet bread loaves, oven baked chicken sandwiches, egg and cheese pitas to fruit and yogurt smoothies, yogurt and bagels.  All breakfast entrees come with fresh fruit, 100% fruit juice and milk.

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The new chocolate chip whole grain gourmet breakfast loaf students can select for breakfast.

Why is breakfast so important? There are many reasons, but we are going to focus on a few of the essentials.  Students who eat a balanced breakfast will stay focused in the classroom and stay full for a longer period of time.  With some students not eating lunch until well in the afternoon, that can be a long time to go without a meal! Eating breakfast also fuels them with energy so that they can succeed in the classroom.  Those students who eat breakfast will also reduce their chances of overeating later in the day.  We have even made it easier for our students to enjoy breakfast at school.  Last year, we introduced our Breakfast After the Bell program in Harper Park Middle School and Smart’s Mill Middle School and are pleased to announce that Brambleton Middle School and Freedom High School have joined this program for the 2017-2018 school year! Breakfast After the Bell allows students the opportunity to purchase breakfast after first block in their class. Our staff brings the breakfast to them.  All they need to do is enter their number into the computer and grab their meal!

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The School Nutrition staff at Harper Park Middle School getting ready to welcome students for Breakfast After the Bell.

A nutritious breakfast will jump start their brains and power it throughout the morning, allowing students to think clearly and concentrate on tasks in the classroom. Breakfast is also a wonderful opportunity for students to increase their fiber intake. Fiber is a nutrient in which many Americans lack in consumption.   All school breakfast entrees contain at least 51% whole grains. Whole grains are higher in fiber than other meal choices. In addition to the whole grains, fruit and vegetables also contain fiber. As previously mentioned, all school breakfasts are served with fresh fruit options. Students can increase the nutritional value of their breakfast by adding fruit to their meal.

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The NEW fruit and yogurt smoothies are a student favorite for breakfast. They are made with low fat yogurt, low fat milk and 100% whole fruit puree. 

Want to find out more information on the School Nutrition Program or find out what’s for #LCPSBreakfast? Visit our website at www.lcpshealthycafe.org or contact Stefanie Dove, RDN at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

Understanding Food Labels

Written By:
Stefanie Dove, RDN
School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator and Registered Dietitian
Loudoun County Public Schools

Understanding the information on the food label might seem overwhelming or even confusing, however, today’s post will help breakdown the information on the label so that you can feel empowered the next time you venture to the grocery store.  Reading food labels will allow you to find out more about the foods you eat, thus helping you to make informed food buying decisions for your family.  Our school nutrition team looks at all of our nutrition labels in detail for all items we serve and prepare for students daily.

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The current Nutrition Facts panel found on most food labels will be changing very soon as manufacturers have until July 2018 to comply with these changes, however, you will notice that some have already started this transition. These changes to the label will help make some of the information easier to find, easy to read, and most importantly, easier to understand. Some of the most noticeable changes are:

  • Serving sizes: The serving sizes listed on packaging now reflect what people currently eat, rather than what a company may view as reasonable. This means that some serving sizes that were equivalent to only a few chips might now reflect the whole package.
  • Calories: The total number of calories per serving is now highlighted in a large font rather than being in the same type size as the other nutrition information.
  • Added sugars: This is something that is completely new to the nutrition label.  Similar to how fat is broken down on the label, added sugars will now be measured in both grams and as a percent daily value. This change will allow consumers to see the difference between sugars added during processing versus sugars that come naturally, such as in fresh fruits and dairy.
  • Multi-serving Products: For those products that contain multiple servings, there will now be two columns to indicate the per serving and per package calorie nutrition information to allow for easier label reading.
  • Unconventional Serving Sizes: All food items that are between one and two servings such as a 20-oz bottle of soda or juice, will now be labeled as one serving to help eliminate confusion.
  • Dietary Fiber and Sodium: The percent daily values for sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D will change for many foods based on the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. This means that the new recommendations either increase or decrease the amount you need to eat to satisfy those needs. An example of this is the previous recommendation for Americans to eat up to 25 grams of fiber day as part of a nutritionally balanced diet.  The new recommendations encourage up to 28 grams a day, so if a food item contains 5 grams of fiber per serving, the old label would have listed 20 for the percent daily value. The new food label will have 18 percent for the percent daily value.
  • Vitamin D and potassium: Labels will now include both the percent daily values and the gram amount since these are nutrients that American’s are not getting enough of on a daily basis.
  • Vitamins A and C: These will no longer be required on labels since the average American receives an adequate amount of these nutrients on a daily basis and deficiencies are rare.
  • Fat: The “Calories from Fat” line will be eliminated, however, “Total Fat,” and the subcategories “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will still be required since new research shows that the type of fat consumed is important.

The Benefits of Reading Nutrition Labels

•Reading labels can help you determine which foods are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
•You can compare similar foods to find out which one is lower in calories, sugar, fat, etc.
•Nutrition labels help you to check your portion sizes to against the serving size listed on the label.Use percent Daily Values (DV) to help you evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily eating plan:
•You can review the percent Daily Values (DV) to help you assess how specific foods fit into your daily eating plan for the entire day and are based on a person consuming 2,000 calories per day.  Keep in mind that depending on how many calories you eat each day, you may need more or less than 100% DV.

Use Nutrition Labels to Help You Monitor These Things:

  • Try to select foods with saturated fats containing less than 10% of total calories daily by replacing them with unsaturated fats.
  • Avoid and limit trans fats to as low as possible.New guidelines recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg daily (for adults and children 14 years and older).
  • Keep added sugars to less than 10% of total calories daily.

For more food label information, visit the Food and Drug Administration  or contact LCPS School Nutrition Services for additional information as we are happy to help answer any questions you might have.