School lunches have more fresh, local produce than they’ve ever had before. And students are learning more about fresh vegetable through the nine school gardens—one at every school in Hopkins.
Students showed off the West Junior High garden when Minnesota Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and other visitors stopped by the school.
But it’s the behind-the-scenes action perhaps tells the story best. Here’s a look at Hopkins school lunches by the numbers, courtesy of Barb Mechura, Hopkins’ director of student nutrition services.
Fall 2008Top three most-purchased items: Three breaded chicken products. The district bought more than 4,000 cases a year of these products.
Other unhealthy items:
- 2,000 cases of highly processed fruit juices
- 1,000 cases of processed potato products such as fries, tots and wedges
- 1,000 cases of breaded mozzarella sticks and corn dog nuggets
- More than 570 cases of chocolate chip cookies.
Changing it UpThe district began by replacing the breaded chicken on its menu with real chicken, including some local chicken. Next, it eliminated processed potato products and started purchasing local fruits and vegetable instead. It also replaced the highly processed juices with real fruit, which has the benefits of the fiber along with all of their minerals and vitamins intact.
NowThe district is purchasing more fruits and vegetables, much of it local produce through the Farm to School program, including:
- 4,000 pounds of local produce and meat purchased in the 2012-13 school year
- $10,000 worth of local food purchased in 2012-13
- 2,000 pounds of local produce purchased for the start of the 2013-14 school year
- $4,000 worth of local food purchased for the start of the 2013-14 school year