DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Four days from now thousands of students in Dallas head back to school and preparations are already underway to make sure they’re served healthy, tasty meals.
CBS 11 News went to the Marisa Luna kitchen for Dallas Independent School District Food and Child Nutrition Services to get a look at how the district is preparing to feed some 150,000 students.
The Marisa Luna facility is where all the food comes into before being delivered out to more than 220 campuses.
Executive Director Michael Rosenberger explained that while students have the summer off, food workers are busy year-round. “Our mission is to build student success and we do that year round with meals, so we’re very busy during the summer – for summer school and academic enrichment programs and community engagement programs. Then we transition right into the school year.
Menus for students and staff aren’t random, Rosenberger says the district puts an emphasis on including lots of fruit and vegetables and lean proteins on each plate.
The Dallas ISD is also trying to take advantage of local resources. Rosenberger says, “We purchase from local farmers and local producers as much as possible, so we serve the freshest, healthiest fruits and vegetables as well as al the other parts of our meal possible to full student success.”
You have to be creative when trying to prepare 40 million tasty meals. This year Executive Chef Trina Nelson says a contest helped to make youngsters a part of the process. “We’ve got what’s called the Tejano Bowl,” she said. “This is actually a student created menu item that’s going to be served in the entire district. This is one of our winning recipes featuring our antibiotic free chicken breast.”
Chef Nelson says the school district, just like parents, is always searching to find fast, nutritious food options. “We actually do a smoothie program here where every high school student gets a free smoothie in the morning,” she said before offering a tip to adults. “So for you parents out there get you some fresh fruit, get you some applesauce, get you some vanilla yogurt, blend that baby up, pop it in a cup, give ‘em a straw and ya’ll are out the door.”
Officials say some of the goals of DISD Food and Child Nutrition Services is to provide healthy, well balanced food that pleases the palates of students from kindergarten through high school. The school district has one of the top ten school nutrition programs in the country.
““It is an enormous team effort to put students first and we have a dedicated team of professionals in this facility, where we do a lot of central prep, as well as almost 1,500 employees in all the school kitchens,” said Rosenberger.
The DISD uses the Nutrislice App – there parents and students can find breakfast, lunch and snack menus for every school in the district.
The first day of school for students in the Dallas ISD is August 20.