Healthy Eating, Happy Students
12/15/2015 9:42 am
West Salem Schools Setting Nutrition Standards
A chat with Kerri Feyen, Director of Nutrition Services, revealed that West Salem schools are ahead of the game when it comes to nutrition. After starting the position in 2013, Feyen has worked to continue the award-winning programs implemented by the previous nutrition director, Michelle Kloser.
Programs, including the Farm2School initiative, Harvest of the Month, working with the FFA and greenhouse classes, farm visits, purchasing local ground beef and use of the school garden and orchard, all add up to an exemplary nutrition program at West Salem.
In 2012, the elementary school was awarded the USDA’s highest award for school nutrition; the Gold Award of Distinction for the HealthierUS School Challenge. West Salem earned the award based on their use of locally-sourced food and collaboration with the school garden. The middle school is currently in the process of applying for the same award.
“Students that were in first grade back then will never have known any different...they will have always known West Salem as a healthy place to come to school, in both nutrition and physical education,” said Feyen.
Besides using locally-sourced food, Feyen works to provide healthy and satisfying meals through the Breakfast in the Classroom program in the elementary school, Nutrition Break in the middle school and the ala carte lunch program.
“We make it our mission to make a really great experience for the kiddos,” said Feyen, crediting her staff for excelling the program.
When asked how the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act impacted food services at West Salem, Feyen said the district was already following most of the guidelines and restrictions. The biggest change has been improved product quality and more options available.
Statewide, about 62 percent of students participate in school lunch. In the West Salem school district, around 75 percent participate daily. Students continue to learn about healthy eating, including portion size, focusing on whole-grains and eating fruits and vegetables through the school nutrition program.