Before the lunch rush at Harlan High School on a recent Friday morning, Child Nutrition Manager Ron Leffler gathers his serving line staff to review portion sizes and serving efficiency in the popular Build Your Own Nachos line.
Harlan is one of four high school cafeterias piloting N-Zone Express offerings this year, giving students lunch options like Build Your Own burritos and nachos. The plan is to implement at all high schools in the 2018-2019 school year.
So far, the reviews from students have been very positive.
“This food makes me want to go in the cafeteria,” says freshman Imani Jarrett. “It’s healthier, it’s fresh. Here we have choices. It’s more directed to what we like to eat.”
“I’m excited to go to lunch and see what they have every day,” says sophomore Maricela McKinley.
Oct. 9-13 is designated as National School Lunch Week and this year’s theme is Recipes for Success. Harlan students say the recipe is simple – they want choices and food that looks good and tastes fresh.
The 1,250 members of the Child Nutrition Department staff serve over 80,000 lunches a day and 20 million meals a school year. The department prides itself on service with a smile and Harlan students say they definitely feel it.
“I can tell they take pride in their work,” sophomore Kori Scott says. “I’ve even seen them at football games supporting us and wearing their school shirts on Fridays.”
McKinley adds, “I have conversations with them like a friend.”
And even though students say it sometimes feels like a restaurant, federal nutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. Visit the department’s website to view menus for elementary and secondary levels.
In addition to breakfast and lunch during the school year, Northside offers feeding programs during the summer months and in March opened two school cafeterias to serve students during Spring Break.
Individuals interested in joining the Child Nutrition Department should visit the Human Resources Department’s Jobs website and search for postings for Food Service Workers and Food Service Manger Trainees.