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DCPS Introduces Local Produce And Healthy Choices Into Cafeterias

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Iona Green tries a mixed berry salad as part of "Strawberries and Salad" Day.
Kavitha Cardoza
Iona Green tries a mixed berry salad as part of "Strawberries and Salad" Day.

By Kavitha Cardoza

Cafeterias in D.C. schools could see a move toward more locally-grown, fresh ingredients.

It was strawberries and salad day at Beers Elementary School. Dozens of students are crunching on mixed berry salads with roasted pumpkin seeds, red onions and spinach. It takes 7-year-old Iona Green just one bite to declare a verdict.

"It’s delicious!" she exclaims.

Green says even though she loves cupcakes and lollipops, she knows it’s important to eat healthy.

"It’s good for you and you need to build a lot of muscle and when you come to school you can eat much better," she says.

Jeffery Mills is the head of food and nutrition for D.C.’s traditional public schools. He says he wants 20 percent of the food served to be locally grown, approximately twice what it is now. Mills says he’s been meeting with area farmers to figure out how much locally-grown produce is available for DCPS children.

"They’re starting to create their eating habits now," he says. "So to really focus on the quality."

So if tater tots and mystery meats are going to be a thing of the past, what about future school lunches? This little salad monster has a few suggestions of her own.

"I would like to see watermelon, peaches, oranges and apples," says Mills. "Well that’s all."

Mills says DCPS has asked food providers to bid on two pilot programs in 14 schools. One program would serve foods cooked from scratch at the school. The other would create boxed lunches with fresh ingredients.

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