Northwest Austin schools focus on innovative nutrition programs

Although each school district can approach meal preparation in its own style, all school meals must follow USDA guidelines. Below are the food groups that must be included in every school lunch throughout the state.

Although each school district can approach meal preparation in its own style, all school meals must follow USDA guidelines. Below are the food groups that must be included in every school lunch throughout the state.

All three school districts in the Northwest Austin area met U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for the 2016-17 school year, but each approached nutrition with myriad ground breaking programs.

Pflugerville ISD introduced the first food trucks to serve K-12 students and offer reimbursable meals, PfISD Food Services Manager Geoff Holle said. Connally High School opened its food truck, called the Connally Chow House, in 2016.

“The trailers fared well with the Austin landscape,” Holle said.

Round Rock ISD hosts Discover Tuesdays, on which international foods are served, and Farm Fresh Fridays, featuring vegetables locally sourced from Texas farms, RRISD Food Services Director Kelly Grones said.

“As school districts, we all try to go beyond the minimums,” she said.

Students at 44 Austin ISD schools—including Guerrero-Thompson and Pillow elementary schools—receive free breakfast at their desks through the district’s Breakfast in the Classroom program, according to the district.

AISD Dietician Ryan Cengel said the program fosters community in the classroom, increases attendance and helps students learn more easily because they are not starting off the day hungry.

“We try to be a model food service for not just Central Texas but for the country,” Cengel said. “There’s a big movement in improving school food across the country.”
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