“I want to make sure what we offer is what they like,” Lally said.
The district’s distributor, Asr Food Distributors Inc., Commerce, Calif., sources from companies like Duda Farms and Taylor Farms, she said.
Contrary to what may be a nationwide trend, salad bars don’t seem to be the way to go in the Long Beach Unified School District, said Darlene Martin, nutrition services assistant director.
The district tried salad bars at a couple of schools, but sanitation, health and safety concerns turned out to be stumbling blocks.
It compromised by introducing “modified mini salad bars” with salads premade in a central kitchen and offered with a choice of at least three toppings, like cherry tomatoes.
The district also focuses on nutrition education and sends communications out to parents.
“It really takes an all-out effort,” Martin said.
The district also participates in the Harvest of the Month program.
Many districts are concerned about new regulations requiring fruits and vegetables to be placed on students’ plates — not just made available — for meals to be reimbursable with federal funds.
“We probably will have some waste,” Martin said. “More will go in the trash.”
The intention is great, Lally said, but the challenge will be to make sure students will consume the produce, not throw it away.