PCRM Announces Golden Carrot Award Winners
At many schools across the country, lunch consists of high-fat fare such as chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, and cheeseburgers. But some schools are making notable improvements. For National School Lunch Week, PCRM recognized five food service directors doing an exceptional job of improving the healthfulness of school lunches.
The top prize in the third annual Golden Carrot Awards was presented to Irmgard James, the food service director at Oak Grove School in Ojai, Calif. James serves an all-vegetarian menu to 175 students and staff daily. The salad bar features raw and steamed vegetables, such as bok choy, parsnips, and sweet potatoes, and dessert is always fresh fruit. Much of the produce comes from the school’s own organic garden and orchard. James’ meals are free of white flour and sugar, and soy and rice milks are available to students at no extra charge. James will receive a check of $1,500, and Oak Grove School will be the recipient of a check for $3,500.
Four other food service professionals came in as runners-up and won $500 for themselves and $500 for their school:
- Laura Gilbert, M.S., R.D., of Albuquerque Academy, a private school in Albuquerque, N.M., serves her students high-fiber, low-fat entrées such as veggie burgers, cheeseless veggie garden pizza, portabella fajitas, scrambled tofu, and hummus wraps.
- Judy Mancini is the food service director of Unity Charter School in Morristown, N.J.–an all-vegetarian school. Most entrée items are also gluten- and dairy-free. Students are taught to eat “low on the food chain” and to eat locally grown produce to promote sustainability. Students even help plant and harvest vegetables in the school's garden.
- JoAnne DeShields, the food service director of Grady High School in Atlanta, incorporated an all-vegetarian lunch line. The “Creations Line” is designated for vegetarian meals only, with choices that include garden burgers, quesadillas with Mexican rice, and spaghetti with “meat sauce.” All these public school students also have the choice of 100 percent fruit juices at no additional cost.
- Gray Miller is the food service director for Pinellas County Schools based in Largo, Fla. She has taken major strides toward health by serving more vegetarian meals and emphasizing fruits and vegetables for all students. At least two vegetarian options are offered daily, and each day fresh fruit, a hot vegetable, a side salad, and entrée salads are available as options.