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.
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.”
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.”