Irmgard James, food service director of Oak Grove School in Ojai, Calif., took top prize this year in PCRM’s Golden Carrot Awards, thanks to her school’s creative all-vegetarian menu. Not only does James offer the students a daily salad bar with raw and steamed vegetables, along with fresh fruit platters standing in for dessert, but she also helps students grow and harvest produce in the school’s own organic garden and orchard. James won $1,500; the school will receive $3,500. Four second-place prizes went to food service professionals in Albuquerque, N.M., Atlanta, Morristown, N.J., and Pinellas County, Fla. To learn more, visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.
School Lunches Improve
Last fall, PCRM released its fifth School Lunch Report Card, which grades the nation’s major school districts on the healthfulness of the food they serve and on how well they are promoting the benefits of healthy eating to students.
The report found that while some schools have plenty of room for improvement, there has been widespread progress in promoting healthy eating, with a focus on increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
To score top grades on PCRM’s report card, a school not only has to meet the USDA’s nutrition requirements, but it also has to serve a vegan main dish and nondairy beverage daily, have available a variety of fresh or low-fat vegetables or fruits, and offer innovative programs that encourage healthy eating habits, such as a school garden or a salad bar. Twelve of the 18 school districts surveyed earned a B- or higher. To help schools further improve, PCRM created and made available on its Web site a sample wellness policy with nutritional guidelines that stress plant-based foods that are naturally low in fat and high in fiber.