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Milford Beacon
  • Milford schools’ nutrition programs get rave review from state agent

  • A combination of compliance, variety of fruits and vegetable offerings and an effort to promote healthy eating to create a fun and educational atmosphere has resulted in a rave review from the state regarding the Milford School District’s food services for students.
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  • A combination of compliance, variety of fruits and vegetable offerings and an effort to promote healthy eating to create a fun and educational atmosphere has resulted in a rave review from the state regarding the Milford School District’s food services for students.
    “They’re doing a really good job and they should be acknowledged for that,” said Karen Giery, a field agent for the Delaware Department of Education’s School Nutrition Programs. “[Staff] are very conscientious and very dedicated to the health and welfare of the students and do everything to be compliant and go above and beyond the minimum requirements.”
    In 2012, federally funded School Nutrition Programs released a new meal pattern with the Healthy Hunger-Free Kid’s Act to increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains served in cafeterias, as well as setting guidelines for recommended caloric intakes and saturated fat levels. Giery said the Milford School District was already ahead of the curve.
    “Milford was one of our first districts that certified their menu,” Giery said, referring to the 2012 menu change that required an increase in fruits, vegetables and whole grains served to students. “In my opinion, from what I saw on site, they’re going above and beyond the USDA’s minimum requirements.”
    Giery, who recently reviewed the district’s compliance with the USDA standards, including meal patterns, nutrition quality, resource management, meal access and reimbursement compliance, said Milford has already been implementing a lot of new requirements, even before they are mandated.
    Giery said by offering a variety of fruits and vegetables, items beside the normal apples and bananas, that the Milford School District’s Nutrition Services department is exposing children to fruit they otherwise might not encounter.
    “[Milford] has been offering a large variety of fresh fruits, canned fruits, fresh vegetables and frozen, and not just the common ones,” Giery said. “They offer kiwi, cantaloupe, things that are different and that a lot of kids may not have access to at home.”
    Giery’s review of Milford’s services left the district with no recommended improvements, and she explained that while not all Delaware schools get such rave reviews, none have significant findings but rather minor issues to improve.
    “Ever since we were little, the first thing everybody does is criticize cafeteria food,” Giery said. “But if you haven’t been in a school cafeteria in the last 10 years, things have changed quite a bit. All the foods are healthy, but some choices obviously are healthier than others. All of our school districts offer a variety of salads, sandwiches, fruits and vegetables.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The Milford School District offers students not only whole grain bread, but also whole grain pasta and pizza crust, as well as a variety of unique fruits and hydroponic vegetables grown at local farms, according to financial secretary for child nutrition Gale Morris.
    “We worked with Hypoint Dairy to develop nonfat flavored milk with less sugar for school meals. Experts will tell you that it is better for children and adolescents to drink flavored milk than to avoid milk all together,” Morris explained. “Our students need calcium, vitamin D, protein and other nutrients from milk for their growth.”
    In an effort to distribute as much healthy food as possible beyond the lunch-time requirements, the district’s participation in the federally-funded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program allows students to enjoy free fruits and vegetables during snack times outside of breakfast and lunch.
    All students in the district, regardless of eligibility criteria, are also able to have a free breakfast through the district’s Universal Breakfast Program.
    “Not all districts do it and we absorb the cost of serving the breakfast, but that’s one of the features we like to have for our kids because they’re our No. 1 customers,” Morris said. “Everybody has to get a healthy meal so they can start their day to think and concentrate, so they are able to start the day thinking clearly being able to do school work. It gives them a good start for the day.”
    But beyond what’s served in the cafeteria lines, the Milford School District’s Nutrition Services Department works to get kids excited about healthy eating, by offering coloring competitions, scholarship opportunities, as well as participating in statewide and national programs like the Healthier U.S. School Challenge, SNAP-Ed from Delaware State University and Fuel Up to Play 60, combining food, fun and education for the students.
    “In the Milford School District, we know that good nutrition and learning go hand in hand,” Morris said. “The Milford School District Nutrition Department is made up of a team of nutrition professionals that are dedicated to the students’ health, well-being and their ability to learn. We support learning by promoting healthy habits for lifelong nutrition and fitness.”
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