Game Day ribbon cutting

Harry Funk/The Almanac

State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Mt. Lebanon High School Principal Brian McFeeley cut a ribbon for the ceremonial launch of Game Day Meals.

For anyone who had to endure soggy french fries, burger buns and pizza crusts for their school lunches, cafeterias have changed for the better.

Guests for a recent event at Mt. Lebanon High School learned firsthand when sampling menu items such as Korean beef over brown rice with stir-fried vegetables and boneless, skinless grilled chicken sandwiches.

Russell Redding

Harry Funk/The Almanac

State Agricultural Secretary Russell Redding is pictured with his Game Day Meal at Mt. Lebanon High School.

The occasion was the kickoff, complete with a ribbon cutting, for Game Day Meals, a program to provide nutritious offerings featuring locally sourced food. The objective is to offer performance-boosting meals Fridays to 50,000 students in Pittsburgh-area schools.

Nolen Fetchko, Mt. Lebanon food service director, and Joe Beaman, University of Pittsburgh director of dining services, worked on developing the program, which has been joined by PA Preferred as a partner.

The state Department of Agriculture sponsors PA Preferred to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania, and the department’s secretary, Russell Redding, visited Mt. Lebanon for the Game Day Meals launch.

“You cannot feed a hungry mind on an empty stomach,” he told a group of students prior to partaking in a Korean beef lunch. “It takes a lot of energy to think and to act, to be great performers as students, but also great performers on the field. I think that’s a really important connection that you make here through Game Day Meals: That nutrition is critical to a strong performance.”

Game Day Meals group

Harry Funk/The Almanac

From left are Joe Beaman, University of Pittsburgh director of dining services; Timothy Steinhauer, Mt. Lebanon School District superintendent; state Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon; Nolen Fetchko, Mt. Lebanon food service director; and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding.

The program features meals planned by University of Pittsburgh dietitians, and Auburn Weisensale, director of nutrition for the university’s athletic department, has spoken with Mt. Lebanon students about the importance of eating properly, providing many recommendations for how to do so.

“The school is doing something here that they’ve entrusted to many, to make sure that you receive great nutrition,” Redding said to students during his visit. “You can perform at your peak, whether you’re on the field or in the band room or in the classroom.”

Nolen Fetchko

Harry Funk/The Almanac

Nolen Fetchko speaks to students at Mt. Lebanon High School.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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