Parents and school community members should have received a letter within the past two weeks from Director of Dining Services Dan Shields and Resident Dietitian Jill Patterson, RD, from Chartwells School Dining Services, to introduce its new Simply Good program ahead of the 2014-15 school year.
Different versions of the letter were sent out to describe the program for the elementary schools, for Reed Intermediate School, for Newtown Middle School, and for Newtown High School.
“As we begin the 2014-2015 school year, Chartwells School Dining Services is pleased to introduce our new Simply Good program, a year-long schedule of special events that are intended to encourage students’ to select complete, well-balanced meals. The Simply Good program continues to have a culinary emphasis that focuses on healthier meal options, especially ones with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins,” the letters all read.
“This year’s annual Simply Good theme consists of four main promotions, with many individual promotional events and activities included in each, to build excitement in the cafeteria for elementary, middle and high school students throughout the school year. These exciting promotions aim to educate elementary, middle and high school students about the importance of eating healthful and balanced meals.”
The letters also informed parents and caregivers that Chartwells follows the National School Lunch Program requirements for planning school lunch menus, and more information is available at choosemyplate.gov.
For the elementary schools, Reed, and NMS, the letters said all lunches should include five meal components: a meat or meat alternate such as yogurt, lean beef, chicken or low-fat cheese; a grain such as whole wheat bread or brown rice; a fruit selection including an array of fresh fruits, dried fruit or canned fruit in natural juice; raw or cooked vegetables in a variety of colors; and low-fat white, fat-free white or fat-free chocolate milk selections.
“Each child must select at least three of these five components to make a meal, including a fruit or vegetable,” the letters for elementary school students, Reed, and NMS students read. “Students must select a fruit or a vegetable with their lunch every day. Without a vegetable or fruit, students will be charged the a la carte price instead of the meal price.”
For elementary school students, Chartwells asked residents to visit the school district’s homepage, newtown.k12.ct.us, and clicking on “parents” then “school nutrition,” for monthly lunch menus, nutrition news from the district’s dietitian, information regarding mySchoolBucks, and more.
For Reed and NMS students, the letters read, “In the school dining experience at Reed Intermediate School [and NMS], students will encounter a ‘food court’ environment with many enticing choices from our Environments Station Concepts: ‘Sizzle’ (unique & highly flavored dishes such as oven roasted barbeque chicken, baked stuffed shells, and spaghetti and meatballs), ‘Bake’ (pizza and anything in or on a crust), ‘Taste’ (hot grab & go sandwiches including burgers and chicken sandwiches), a variety of carving station favorites, ‘Crisp’ (fresh made-to-order deli sandwiches), and ‘Wild Greens’ (Salad Bar).
Chartwells also recommended that parents talk to their Reed and NMS students about whether students are expected to purchase a complete meal, whether it is okay to purchase a meal plus one or two a la carte items, whether it is okay for the student to purchase a la carte items instead of a meal.
A meal at Reed and NMS consists of one entrée from any of the stations, unlimited fruits and vegetables, and one 8-ounce milk. The price of a “meal” is $2.85 at Reed and NMS.
The high school letter read, “Chartwells remains committed to serving nutritious meals to students in the 2014-15 school year. The following menu planning strategies will be implemented across all Newtown schools: an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables will be made available daily; low-fat white, skim white and skim chocolate milk will be offered daily; flavorful entrees utilizing lean beef, chicken, turkey, low-fat cheese, or beans will be served on a regular basis; at least half of the grains offered in the school cafeteria will be whole grain.
“For our high school students, we understand their more sophisticated pallets, so we’ve planned appropriate enhancements to meet their needs,” the letter continued.
Several new food stations will be available for NHS students this year, according to the letter.
“Be sure to see menus for details on these delicious offerings. Please note that our $3.10 complete meal is still available at all of our concept stations. In addition, we are offering daily a la carte specials that are priced between $3.75 and $6 on average,” the letter read.
Another change came when the Newtown Board of Education decided to remove the high school from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for the 2014-15 school year, according to Chartwells, and the change will give more flexibility in food portioning and offerings for students and reduce food waste.
“This change will not affect any of the wellness and nutrition initiatives and it will not affect the free and reduced mealtime program for eligible student,” the letter read.