Orono’s Nutrition for the Future Workgroup Proposes Changes in the Lunchroom and Beyond


Kenzie Taylor

Orono's nutrition instagram @oronochildnutrition shares a photo describing lunch, and adds that they are serving antibiotic-free chicken

Kenzie Taylor, Editor in Chief

Kenzie Taylor
Editor in Chief

On Thursday, January 9th, a temporary committee called the Nutrition for the Future Task Force held its last meeting. The group is composed of Orono parents and staff from the nutrition program, among other members of the Orono community.

Over the course of four months and six meetings, the group brainstormed and collaborated on several hot-button topics regarding the nutrition program at all Orono schools; Schumann Elementary, Orono Intermediate, Middle and High schools. Key matters include fresh and frozen foods over canned and processed ones, more vegetable and meatless options, and increased prepared-on-site meals.

Although unofficial, the two ultimate recommendations are as follows: “Provide more education in the lunchroom and the classroom about nutrition and food choices and provide more opportunities for students to make good nutritional choices.” and the second, “Prepare and serve high quality foods that improve the nutritional profile and seek to exceed nutritional standards in a cost effective manner.”

Another point the group discussed was that it is important to focus on what all families can get on the same page about, such as including more vegetables and offering foods with low sugar, rather than the gray areas like meat and milk. It was clearly communicated that each family has different standards of what they consider “healthy” and several members of the group acknowledged that it is wrong to require students to take a milk carton with their lunch, arguing that some may have lactose intolerance, are vegan, or simply not want to incorporate it into their diet.

In addition to discussing nutritional guidelines of the school cafeterias, length of lunch periods, recess time, and opportunities to streamline the lunch lines were examined.

At Schumann Elementary School, recess is held after lunch. While this seems like a rather unimportant detail, it greatly affects the children’s lunch experience. Kids rush to eat their lunch in order to go outside and play, causing them to undereat. This is especially evident in the wintertime, when frigid Minnesota temperatures require students to dedicate a portion of their lunch period to pile on their snow gear. A majority of the kids even eat their lunch in their snow pants and coat.

Some surrounding school districts schedule recess prior to lunch, which not only slows them down, but also increases their food intake.

The final proposals are still a work in progress, but will ultimately be finalized and sent to the school board. Further steps include a formal presentation, estimated to take place in the upcoming months.