MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

November 4, 2013

Cafeteria makeover takes school

Cafeteria food is getting a makeover at Fort Gibson Public Schools.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented new regulations in 2012 for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover brought in an expert to teach his cafeteria staff how to make healthy food appealing to kids.

“Data shows a drop in the number of kids eating main line cafeteria food. That’s why we bring in Chef Eli and the Salt Food Group to help give us professional ideas to take requirements and make them appealing to kids,” Glover said.

Chef Eli Huff, owner and executive chef for Salt Food Group of Tulsa, works to teach kids that healthy food can taste good too.

Huff started working in restaurants when he was 16 and has owned two restaurants in his 20 years of experience.

“Kids love chefs,” he said.

Huff said he believes bringing chefs to schools can peak kids’ interest when it comes to healthy food.  

First Lady Michelle Obama created the Let’s Move! Initiative in 2010 to help solve the problem of childhood obesity. With the signature of President Barack Obama, the Task Force of Childhood Obesity began to review programs and policies relating to child nutrition.

As a result new regulations on public school foods are changing.

“It is difficult navigating through the new U. S. Department of Agriculture’s ever changing regulations,” Huff said.

He continues to work with the Fort Gibson cafeteria staff teaching them how to spice up the food while staying within food regulations on ingredients such as salt and sugar.  

“Whatever we’re doing, we are doing it right,” said Martha Rhyne, main dish cook.

Rhyne has prepared meals for Fort Gibson school kids for 27 years and is enthused to hear students telling stories about eating salad for the first time.

“The kids are loving it, especially the panini,” Huff said.  

Panini were introduced by Fort Gibson cafeteria to give kids an alternative to fried food.

In accordance with NSLP, schools must offer more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and a reduction in sodium.]

The following amounts are the new requirements for vegetable subgroups for lunches:

• Dark Green: 1⁄2 cup (all ages)

• Red/orange: 3⁄4 cup (K-8); 11⁄4 cup (9-12)

• Beans/peas (legumes): 1⁄2 cup (all ages)

• Starchy: 1⁄2 cup (all ages)

• Other: 1⁄2 cup (K-8); 3⁄4 cup (9-12)

Beans and peas (legumes) can be used as a vegetable component.

Schools can serve fresh, frozen and canned vegetables.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@

muskogeephoenix.com.

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