Healthier food awaits students in Hillsborough

While not every student reaches for broccoli, it’s being offered now at local school campuses.
It’s part of a plan that Ginain Grayes of the school district’s student nutrition services department said will be part of lunches this year in Hillsborough County.

Trays are now colored coded, making it easy for kids to fill up their plate with the right foods. If the student doesn’t know baked beans are a vegetable, a green sign informs them.

“This helps children as they're going through the lunch line to pick and select their school lunch,” Grayes said. “And it helps educate them on how to build a healthy meal elsewhere.”

Healthier food options will be offered also.

“This is the Mediterranean salad shaker, and it has all fresh fruits and vegetables. We’re really trying to focus more on offering healthy options, and we’re really honing in on offering whole grains, so this includes wild rice. Everything we put on the menu is tested with children to make sure it’s received well and they like it. At the end of the day we do want them to eat.”
New options are available for everyone, even those on reduced or free lunch plans. The students can set up an account to make it easier to pay. 
“We have a solution called ‘my payments plus’ and parents can go to the district web site. And you can set up an account,” Grayes said. “Basically it works like a checking account. As children go through the serving line they put in their ID number and it will take from their account.”
Registration is underway. 
“If it’s a new student, new to Hillsborough County or new to kindergarten, they need to be sure they have all their documentation before they come in,” said Cindy Petersen, in charge of data processing for Palm River Elementary School.
Proper documentation includes a birth certificate, physical shot record, two proofs of residency and a Social Security card.
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