Doctors Name Healthiest School Lunch Programs in United States
Schools in California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., Take Top Honors in Golden Carrot Awards; Winning Menus Emphasize Fruits, Vegetables,
WASHINGTON—School cafeterias across the country are ditching the mystery meat and serving up fruits, vegetables, and healthy plant-based meal options. It’s National School Lunch Week, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) announces the winners of its 2010 Golden Carrot Awards for innovation in school food service. The grand prize goes to Vino Mitra, food service director at Oceanside Unified School District in Oceanside, Calif. Three runner-up prizes go to food service professionals in Memphis, Tenn., Washington, D.C., and Manassas, Va.
PCRM established the Golden Carrot Awards in 2004 to recognize food service professionals doing an exceptional job of improving the healthfulness of school lunches. PCRM looks for programs that encourage kids to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and that offer plenty of vegetarian, low-fat, whole grain, and nondairy options. If a student chooses a plant-based meal option even once a week, he or she can reap important benefits. A veggie burger, for example, is similar in protein content to a hamburger. However, while the hamburger has 15 grams of fat, the veggie burger has only 5 and contains almost no saturated fat or cholesterol.
This year’s Golden Carrot winners:
Vino Mitra won the grand prize for the creative food service program he runs at Oceanside Unified School District in Oceanside, Calif. PCRM will give $3,000 to Mr. Mitra to benefit the district’s food service program. Oceanside Unified School District offers a wide variety of nutritious, vegetarian food, and uses innovative programs, such as “Lean and Green” Monday, to promote healthy eating.
Kim Stewart, M.S., R.D., and Liz Purnell, R.D., nutrition educators for Memphis City Schools, are among the district’s food service staff winning a $1,000 runner-up award for their nutritious menu full of delicious plant-based options. Memphis City Schools offers many healthful recipes for traditional southern dishes, including baked okra, Mexicali corn, and southern green beans.
Jeffrey Mills, food service director for District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C., is winning a $1,000 runner-up award to benefit the district’s food service program for making major strides to improve student health by serving healthy, low-fat, vegetarian options to more than 122 schools in the nation’s capital. The district’s “Strawberries and Salad Greens Day” encourages students to fill up on fresh, local vegetables and fruits.
Serena Suthers, M.S., R.D., S.F.N.S., food and nutrition services director for Prince William County Public Schools, is winning a $1,000 runner-up award to benefit her district’s community-focused food service program. The district offers a wide variety of nutritious, vegetarian choices—including black bean empanadas, chik’n nuggets, three-bean chili, and soymilk—and provides fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables through a farm-to-school partnership.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.