News & Events
Got Fruit? Edina’s new lunch menu brings more fruits and vegetables to the table
Trained chefs bring added expertise to new menus
Thanks in part to new regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the lunches in Edina Public Schools (EPS) have received a nutritional boost. For the first time in 15 years, the USDA has made significant changes to school meal regulations, requiring schools to follow the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Throughout the District, lunch trays are full of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables, and students are learning more about what it means to eat a balanced meal.
“Edina Public Schools has always worked hard at providing healthy, balanced school meals,” said Mary Lombardi, EPS food service general manager. “The biggest change that families will notice is the new requirement that students have to take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch. Some other changes include implementing controls on portion sizes, including providing smaller bread items and adding more whole grains.” She said that over 50% of the grains offered are now whole grain, and they are serving pastas made with 100% whole wheat.”
The new lunch plan follows the USDA’s My Plate approach to healthy eating, using the standard dinner plate as visual representation of what a healthy meal looks like. According to the guidelines, every meal should consist of five components: grains, meat or protein, fruit, vegetable, and milk. In EPS lunches, that means students must select at least three of the five components, including a fruit or vegetable.
At EPS elementary schools, a ‘from the garden’ section in the lunchline provides an assortment of fruits and vegetables complimenting the daily meal. The middle schools have “DYK Cafes” (Did You Know?) including garden-fresh salad bars and fun facts posted throughout the cafeteria about food and nutrition. At Edina High School, menu items include locally grown and inventive ingredients such as sunflower butter and roasted butternut squash.
In addition to more fruits and vegetables, EPS also welcomes two new chefs whose varied experiences will help enhance and excite students about healthy eating. Incoming EPS Executive Chef Andrew Lehrke also serves as the new chef at Edina High School. He has a culinary background in the hotel and resort industry. This fall, Concord Elementary welcomed Chef,Robert Velarde, who has experience as a regional resource chef and was previously chef at Edina High School from 2003 to 2008. Both chefs are excited about developing new creations for students in ways that will make healthy food options attractive and intriguing.
“You will see some new menu items, and some old menu items, all including healthier ingredients and an emphasis on eating a healthy, balanced meal,” noted Lombardi. “One way to do this is to look at preparing more of our school meals from scratch, thus reducing the number of pre-processed foods that we purchase, which, while sometimes less expensive, they are often less nutritious.”