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Families sample new school food

Vendors offer healthy meal options for SCV schools

Posted: October 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Gloria Ekelchick feeds her son, Mischa, a piece of chicken at the Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency vendor show on Tuesday. Parents and children were invited to sample school food items from 17 different representatives. Photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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Any parent who has coaxed a youngster to eat something he or she doesn’t want – which means pretty much any parents who’s raised a kid – can sympathize with Jane Crawford.

Crawford provides 12,000 lunches and 4,500 breakfasts each school year to students in the Santa Clarita Valley’s public elementary schools. And she can’t cheat by adding sugar or other not-so-good-for-you enticements.

Under a new law that takes effect in January, everything served in public schools statewide must meet USDA guidelines. Single items sold at elementary schools, for example, cannot have anything with more than 10 percent of its calories from fat or more than 35 percent sugar by weight. No single item can have more than 175 calories.

Last week Crawford held the Santa Clarita Valley School Food Services Agency’s 10th annual food vendor show, inviting parents and students to sample and survey food items from 17 food vendors for taste and quality.

Crawford, director of food services for the agency that contracts with all four elementary school districts, will evaluate the surveys and decide what food items should be added to the school breakfast, lunch and a la carte menus.

“With five different items we have as entrees and because we’re dealing with elementary school kids, you’re always going to have to be innovative as to how you present those five entrees,” said Crawford.

“Many, many types of foods are very new to kids,” she said. “For them to try new products, they normally have to be introduced to it several times even in schools. You need to introduce them to those items to become familiar.”

Gloria Ekelchik and her son Mischa were sampling items at the vendor show. “I like it if it has the color green in it,”she said jokingly. “Food with at least three different colors and not too deep fried, and baked, would be great.”

For Crawford, a big concern is the communication between vendors and parents. “This is a really good opportunity to have parents come and bring their children,” she said. “They both get opportunities to taste things and talk to our vendors and tell them what their desires are and what they would like to see.”


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