Friday, February 2, 2018

Parent Tasting Event at P.S. 443/P.S. 457: The Alternative Menu

On November 16th, greeted by center pieces adorned with harvest vegetables and the aroma of fall food, twenty-two parents and forty children from P.S. 443/P.S. 457 participated in a tasting of the Alternative Menu – one of three school menus from which school principals can choose. The event, co-sponsored by the NYC Department of Education’s Garden to Café/Office of School Food offered a welcome respite from parent-teacher conferences occurring throughout the day.

Before the tasting began, Bronx Health REACH’s Moria Byrne-Zaaloff and FoodCorps member Angela Doyle, working with P.S. 443, held a brief workshop with the parents to discuss the important role school food plays in their children’s health. Moria and Angela spoke about how most students eat two-thirds of their recommended calories in school, and a diet that consists of colorful whole vegetables and fruits fuels students’ brains and bodies with the necessary nutrients to grow and learn.

The Alternative Menu encourages students to eat more plant-based foods made from scratch without added sugar or salt. By eating more food high in fiber, with lean protein and whole grains, students will have the energy to focus and perform well in school throughout the day. Moria and Angela emphasized how students can still eat their favorite foods such as hamburgers during the school lunch period, but the burger would be served on a whole grain bun with a healthy chickpea and tomato side salad instead of French fries.

The event culminated with a tasting of Alternative Menu items that included cinnamon-spiced acorn squash, beet-apple slaw and Jonquil apple slices, all from local New York farms. Parents complimented the cooking of Holly Howitt and George Edwards, Chefs from the Garden to Café program of Office of School Food. Garden to Café is an initiative of the Office of School Food and FoodCorps that provides bi-annual taste testings at schools to encourage children to consume more fruits and vegetables during the school day, and how to make healthier food choices. They were thrilled to see their children willing to try the healthy foods being offered. Parents left the event with recipes, and a reusable place mat with information about the Alternative Menu along with how to get their child’s school to switch to this menu.

Thank you to George Edwards, Coordinator-Garden to Cafe Program and Holly Howitt, Chef of School Food, and FoodCorps member Angela Doyle for taking on this challenge and making it a huge success!

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