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May 6, 2010 10:09 PM by Andy Koen

District 11 aims to freshen its menu

Food and nutrition managers in Colorado Springs School District 11 are revamping the menu for school cafeterias.

The D11 Good Food Project aims to reduce the amount of processed foods that are served to students and to increase the number of natural foods served in school lunch lines.

Nachos and pretzels are gone altogether.  Even chicken nuggets and pizza are showing up less. Nuggets used to be served roughly 10-12 times a month compared to 3 times a month now.

"We're taking the high road and saying we're going to serve whole foods, foods that are good for the earth and from the earth, foods that don't contain these artificial preservatives and added things to them," explains Food and Nutrition Services Director Rick Hughes.

New items on the menu include a made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese with whole grain pasta and real cheddar cheese, and an all-natural lemon pepper roasted chicken.

"We're still experimenting, we're still learning but the flavor is so much better," Hughes said. "It is really good food and I'm really excited about it,"

The new food costs more, but Hughes has managed to make the change and still keep within budget. He says the biggest challenge has been adjusting to the extra cooking.

"We've opened boxes for so long and just been able to put food into the warmer or the oven and been able to serve it, but now we have to mix things, and cut things and put things together in a mixing bowl, and it's a challenge."

Since January, more than half of the processed foods have been cut from the menu, no small task when you consider that the district serves 24,000 meals each day.

"We feel that it's an important investment in our community to help them understand why we need to look at the foods that we're eating, why we need to know where our foods come from and what's in our foods."

The district is encouraging the public to learn more about their changes and the food industry in general. 

They are hosting a free screening of the documentary Fresh tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Palmer High School, 310 N. Nevada Avenue.

Click here to read in detail about the district's change.

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