Mystery meat? Not in Santa Clarita.We’ve all heard about gross school lunches. The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions school lunches, is the poor quality.
But here in Santa Clarita, that’s a different story.
“School lunches today are not the same as what adults remember,” says Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency (SCVSFSA) Director Jane Crawford. Newhall School District Superintendent Dr. Marc Winger agrees that there are many misconceptions about school lunches. “People always joke that they are cold and gross, but those stereotypical views don’t apply here in Santa Clarita.”
About 14 years ago, local school districts realized they were losing money in regard to their food services. They joined together and formed the SCV School Food Services Agency. The Agency tries to meet the each district’s specific guidelines, while choosing meals that students want to eat.
Yet, these days, it’s hard to make a child want to eat something that’s nutritious. Some kids are used to eating fast foods for most of their meals. “Schools follow trends, they don’t set them. If the kids have unhealthy food outside of school, they are going to want the same food, or something like it at school,” commented Crawford. But the Agency continues to try to make nutritious lunches appealing to youngsters. The menu is analyzed weekly to ensure that the nutritional content meets FDA guidelines.
In their efforts to offer healthy choices, they have created an original recipe for a pizza with a whole grain crust. The pizza is prepared and cooked in their facilities and shipped out daily. Dr. Winger has even tried the school’s pizza, and says, “It’s really good, and is a favorite among the kids.” They also offer five different entrees, fresh and canned fruits, a full salad bar, and a variety of beverages including low-fat, non-fat and 1% milk, as well as a variety of 100% juice. The fresh produce offered by the schools is delivered daily.
No one can deny that school lunches have changed significantly.
So when Crawford heard a commercial about a kid complaining to his mother about not wanting to eat his school’s “mystery meat” sandwiches, she was disappointed.
“They have no idea how much has changed, and how hard we work,” she said.
The SCV School Food Services Agency has been serving up these tasty and nutritious meals in Santa Clarita schools for over a decade. Currently, they provide school lunches for over 32,000 students in all 38 Santa Clarita elementary schools, as well as Vasquez High School, and Castaic and High Desert Middle Schools.
The Agency is run by a board of directors, and has hired both a dietician and a nutritionist association to make sure that the lunches satisfy the children’s growing needs. Everything is accounted for; the calories, the fat, and the cholesterol.
“The most common misconception is that school lunches are fried and saturated in fat. But, that’s not true. We are making strides to change children’s health.”