When it comes to serving children nourishing food at school, many school districts face serious challenges. Tight budgets, procurement and management issues, and a lack of kitchen equipment, culinary training and education all present hurdles school districts must navigate to serve children healthy, scratch-cooked meals. That’s why the Life Time Foundation, a public charity, decided to focus its fundraising efforts on helping schools remove the Harmful 7 and return whole, real foods to cafeterias.
Most recently, the Life Time Foundation partnered with Austin Independent School District (AISD) by providing a more than $600,000 grant to remove the Harmful 7 from the food they serve through supporting programs including breakfast in the classroom, made-to-order salad bars, culinary training and a food truck.
These programs are all in an effort to remove the Life Time Foundation’s Harmful 7 from AISD’s menus:
- Trans Fats & Hydrogenated Oils
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Hormones & Antibiotics
- Processed & Artificial Sweeteners
- Artificial Colors & Flavors
- Artificial Preservatives
- Bleached Flour
With nearly 84,000 students and more than 130 schools, AISD and Life Time Foundation are poised to make a significant positive impact in the Austin community via the initiatives below.
Breakfast in the Classroom
The Breakfast in the Classroom program delivers a quality breakfast to students each morning.
Not only is AISD removing the Harmful 7 from the food they serve, but they are also fighting food insecurity and the stigma of taking school breakfast. Breakfast in the Classroom is crucial in Austin where food insecurity affects 1 in 3 children. The program allows students and teachers to enjoy breakfast together in the classroom before class begins, ensuring everyone is ready to learn. It makes breakfast accessible to students while simultaneously eliminating the stigma of eating school breakfast. By the end of the school year, AISD will be serving more than 5,000 scratch-cooked breakfasts to nearly 30 schools per day.
Made-to-Order Salad Bars
Another way AISD and Life Time Foundation are bringing healthy and fresh food to students is through Made-to-Order Salad Bars. Students have the option of personalizing their salads with 1-2 proteins, 2-4 veggies, 1 whole grain, additional healthy toppings and a dressing of their choice. Not only does this model empower students to eat more vegetables, but it can also help minimize food waste by allowing students to opt for their favorite veggies and skip the ones they may normally throw away. These salads also offer vegetarian protein options.
In the process of eliminating the Harmful 7, AISD is moving toward a cook-from-scratch model. This helps the district provide the freshest and healthiest options for their students. To support this model, our grant provides funding to train the food service professionals on culinary skills that incorporate more farm-to-table ingredients.
Nacho Average Food Truck
Removing the Harmful 7 is just the start of providing kids with healthy food, and AISD is hard at work to provide healthy food that kids enjoy. AISD has a dietitian and a professional chef on their team to ensure kids are eating delicious, healthy foods.. Last month, Nacho Average Food Truck hit the road to serve globally-inspired meals to AISD’s high schools. This food truck serves breakfast tacos and an around-the-world inspired burger menu.
So, if you’re lucky enough to have students who attend AISD, skip the cold lunch and put your trust in the school food program. You can take comfort in knowing AISD and Life Time Foundation are taking strides in creating real, whole and healthy food that your kids will love.