The Colonial School District Food Services Department has been awarded $6,300 through two separate grant programs. Each of the District's four K-3 schools have received $1,200 through the Pennsylvania Smarter Lunchrooms Mini Grant Program. Another $1,500 was awarded through the federal Farm to School Grant Program for use at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School (PWHS) and Colonial Middle School (CMS).
The Smarter Lunchroom Program focuses on research-based principles and strategies that have proven effective in creating an environment that encourages children to make healthy choices in school cafeterias. The minimal changes to the serving lines have returned maximum results.
In the K-3 schools, swapping out old stainless steel pans with black containers makes colorful fruits and vegetables "pop," better positioning pans so that smaller students can see what is being served, giving items creative names and adding colorful signs to the serving line have had a positive effect.
"Using vibrant signs and cartoonish characters and coming up with creative names like Sensational Celery or Power Up Peaches helps grab the students' attention," said Director of Food Services Lori McCoy. "It's nice to see young students come through the line and be excited about choosing fruits and vegetables."
The purpose of the USDA Farm to School Grant Program is to assist eligible entities in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. Colonial will use the grant funds at PWHS and CMS to have Chef Bill Scepansky, a consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education Division of Food and Nutrition conduct a hands-on training session to provide food service staff more ways to integrate local foods into school meals.
"It's another way to give healthier options to our students," said Mrs. McCoy. "The students are more aware of the environment and sustainability practices are becoming more important to them. Sourcing food locally is one way we can take part in this 'green' initiative."
Mrs. McCoy added that the District has used locally grown peaches, watermelon, spinach, mushrooms, cucumbers and more in lunches this school year.
"Both grants enable us to incorporate measures that increase healthy nutrition options and encourage students to make better choices," Mrs. McCoy said. "Good nutrition helps students perform their best in the classroom."