School Business Affairs July-August 2019

10 JULY/AUGUST 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS can lead to good behavior as they move into adulthood. And at Fridley this is of the utmost importance. “One of our top priorities here at Fridley is to make sure we’re improving academic achievement and nutri- tion,” Hammer says. “Making sure kids are starting out in a good spot here is one of the key pieces to [meeting] those goals.” Fridley’s universal breakfast and second-chance breakfast help ensure students have “that foundational block of not being hungry when trying to learn,” Ham- mer says. “It’s that whole-student outlook: What are the pieces that need to be in place for students to be success- ful in the classroom? Proper nutrition’s a huge piece of that.” Since the district started offering new opportunities for students to fill up on nutritious food, teachers have attested to an improvement in student engagement and concentration, especially at the elementary levels. On top of that, Mueller was able to take on the chal- lenge of doing things differently, learning the ins and outs of school food reform in her district and continu- ously improving school nutrition. “It really pushed us to make changes that benefit kids; to continue to do that every single day,”Mueller says of the SFSI grant. “We have a different mindset now when we evaluate products or roll out a recipe.” One of the items the district looks for now is whether a product contains what the Life Time Foundation refers to as the Harmful 7: trans fats and hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, hormones and antibiotics, processed and artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors, artificial preservatives, and bleached flour. As a partner of SFSI, Life Time Foundation’s support helps districts remove these ingredients alongside their move to increased scratch cooking. Progress and Hope for the Future The most important part of this work, Mueller says, is the long-term benefits that Fridley students reap by hav- ing access to healthy food and nutrition education—a new understanding of where food comes from and what real food is. Because 65% of the district’s student population is eligible for free and reduced-price meals, school lunch is often the only fresh, scratch-cooked food many of these children receive in a day. This makes marketing and edu- cation doubly important. Banh mi sandwiches and Buffalo roasted cauliflower offer students tasty vegetable-forward choices. BBQ pulled turkey and roasted potatoes are served with crunchy pepper strips and juicy citrus fruits. Real food cooked from scratch includes roasted tomatoes and broccoli, and veggie-studded turkey chili. Fresh strawberries provide nutrition and a splash of color to students’ meals. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHEF ANN FOUNDATION. PHOTOS COURTESY OF FRIDELY PUBLIC SCHOOLS.