Lincoln (NE) Public Schools is the only public school district to win a 2014 Golden Carrot Award from vegetarian advocacy group Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, joining the MUSE School CA of Calabasas, CA, and Desert Garden Montessori of Phoenix. Each received $1,500 awards to sustain their healthful K-12 school lunch programs.
“As health care providers, we recognize schools who not only serve healthful food, but who can engage students and parents in the process,” says PCRM's Cameron Wells, RD, MPH. “Our 2014 Golden Carrot Award winners show there are many options that extend past a salad bar and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
Led by Food Service Director Edith Zumwalt, MS, RDN, SNS, the nutrition services department at Lincoln Schools serves its 38,000 students such fare as red beans and rice, veggie burgers and fresh garden salads. One of the student favorites, a black bean chili, provides 23 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber, just one gram of fat and no cholesterol. In addition to serving legume-based entrees, Zumwalt dishes out a variety of Nebraska-grown fruits and vegetables, including yellow watermelon, black and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, ripe plums, and fresh cantaloupe.
MUSE is transitioning to an entirely plant-based menu for the 2015/16 school year. Currently, a typical lunch includes sweet potato and black bean cakes with avocado dipping sauce, roasted broccoli with watermelon wedges and a fresh leafy green salad. Healthful snacks include apple and cucumber slices, rice cakes, and carrot sticks with black bean dip.
Desert Garden Montessori will use the Golden Carrot Award grant to support its most popular homemade menu items: black bean tacos, heirloom tomato soup, Thai curries, Indian food, and whole-wheat pasta with vegetable marina sauce. Meanwhile, students snack on fresh grapes, rainbow carrots, and celery sticks with homemade hummus throughout the day and teachers double as nutrition ambassadors, modeling healthful behaviors and educating students about new fruits and vegetables in the lunch line.
Desert Garden Montessori also worked with Phoenix chef Cassie Tolmen (Pomegranate Café) several years ago on developing a menu that’s not just nutritious but tastes good. The school will continue to introduce superfoods, including chia seeds, goji berries, maca powder, and Brazil nuts to students this year.