Cool in School: Chaska Elementary students go for the green at lunch

8:51 AM, Jan 13, 2011   |    comments
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Chaska Elementary students love the green!

CHASKA, Minn. -- The lunch line at Chaska Elementary School moves pretty fast, but one feature brings kids to a standstill, and that's exactly what the staff wants to see.

It's the salad bar, filled with greens, vegetables and other healthy items to fill a plate.

"This is a pilot for us here in District 112," said Principal Nancy Wittman.

Chaska Elemenary is in the midst of revamping its food offerings with the help of a grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Plan, or SHIP grant.

Chaska's first priority with the grant was to beef up it's breakfast program.  Staff noticed a number of students were coming to school having had no breakfast at all.

"Coming to school hungry makes for a pretty long, morning," said Wittman.

However, the benefits of the grant can be felt throughout the day at Chaska.  "It's a lot healthier eating now than it was when I first started," said Kitchen Manager Violet Thulien.

She remembers more processed foods, more fat and more salt in the items served at lunch.  Thulien says students still have their favorites, like chicken nuggets, but she's been able to introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables, including star fruit, kiwi and raw broccoli.

The salad bar is a big part of that effort, and so far, students are willing to give it a try.

"We're at 22-percent on an average that takes our salad bar on a daily basis," said Thulien.

Witten sees it as an antidote to a society that has come to rely too much on fast food.

"We certainly have seen as we have the hustle and bustle of today's living that we have maybe gone to a less healthy eating and less focus on the daily servings of the food pyramid." 

(Copyright by KARE 2011. All rights reserved.)

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