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Schools are being required to meet maximum and minimum calorie levels with the menus they post. Those ranges differ by age group. That makes it tricky at schools covering kindergarten through eighth-grade students because there’s only a 50-calorie overlap between the minimum for middle grades and the maximum for younger students, Weber said. Ten schools serving younger grades got new salad bars starting this month, but others need more equipment to launch even that relatively modest change. New sinks or vent hoods, or new wiring are common needs.
Other changes are coming. The Nutrition Center will add edible plantings to its visible front. School gardens are launching at Dowling and Nellie Stone Johnson schools. The district is buying about 10 percent of its food from local growers, and 40 percent from local sources, which include some midsize food companies. There’s an effort to incorporate dishes adapted from immigrant cuisine, such as the chicken molé that the department is developing
One example of local sourcing is the turkey thighs and legs that the district buys from Cannon Falls-based Ferndale Market, a free-range turkey farm that eschews additives. Weber pays less for that meat than for federal ground beef and gives the farmer a market for turkey parts in lower demand.
“He wins. I win. Kids win,” Weber said.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438