The Department of Education (DOE) is constantly revamping their citywide culinary standards.
As a testament to their ever-changing menu, a food and nutrition specialist spoke at the monthly School District 18 Community Education Council (CEC) meeting about updated guidelines and meal options that even judgmental Chef Gordon Ramsay might say is quite impressive!
Wendy Mota, the DOE’s Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor, spoke to parents and educators at the first CEC18 meeting of 2023 on Monday, January 9th, via Zoom. The representative said that many students have taken part in taste-testing as a means of improving school food choices.
“We have hundreds of students attending these sessions – with about 30 students participating per session. They take a field trip to the testing headquarters site in Long Island City where they’re given samples of various dishes,” she said. “We have to have 75 % of the students approve of the new selections.”
With more vegetarian and locally-grown delights making their way to cafeteria trays, the agency will be training and mentoring more kitchen teams to follow new guidelines and quality standards. Mota also announced that as of September 2022, schools said goodbye to prepackaged deli meats.
“Deli meats are processed and have too many preservatives. We’re also removing pork items from the menu,” she said. “Any meals that contain foods with food coloring, flavor enhancers, sweeteners, flour additives and high sodium (MSG) are being eliminated.”
Mota also said menus will have:
-100% beef hamburgers
-Salad bars offered daily
-Chicken that is certified antibiotic-free and humanely raised, using no animal-by-product feed. There will also be no deep frying of chicken tenders. Meal components are aimed to contain grains, vegetables, fruits and milk.
The nutrition specialist added that schools will go green once a month by having lunches prepared and served without plastic containers or wrapping in an effort to reduce waste. Students will have their next “Plastic Free Lunch Day” on January 25th.
In other school planning news, Superintendent Celeste Terry provided a review of District 18’s goals for the 2022-2023 school year. According to Terry’s PowerPoint presentation, the District aims to increase literacy and math ratings (literacy is 30.9% and math is currently 43.7%) through rigorous programs initiatives.
Another strategy to get those grades up is developing a District-wide comprehensive assessment plan to monitor school progress through data drives at least three times throughout the year and maintain a schoolwide reset/reteach plan.
The next scheduled CEC18 meeting will be held virtually on Monday, February 6th at 7 p.m. Call their District office at 718-566-6037 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.