K-12 school meal operations have been tasked with meeting government-mandated nutrition guidelines, waiver uncertainty and menu planning during the coronavirus while students have been learning in a hybrid model for almost a year. Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) in Miami has always been on the forefront of child nutrition and they aren’t letting up now. Their strategy is giving students what they’re craving right now: comfort food.
Lora Gilbert MS, RD, SNS, FADA, senior director, Food and Nutrition Services, and Jamila Adams, menu and nutrition senior administrator, described how they’ve been feeding students virtually by working with vendors to create new packaging.
The team at OCPS worked with their vendors to arrange at-home, full-sized pizzas that were individually wrapped for students to provide food for an entire week, so the students received comforting food but also only had to retrieve their school food once a week.
But the team still has to feed those learning in-person, about 30% of which have returned to in-school instruction. For those doing in-person learning, OCPS launched a Black History Month menu featuring collard greens and biscuits.
Gilbert and Adams also discuss the impact of using local produce on the economy and farmers as well as the new technology OCPS has invested in during the pandemic.
Listen to them discuss how menu planning has gone during COVID and how the team is ensuring students are happy and educated.