Fresh Food in Leelanau School Lunches

Loving fresh food at Glen Lake and Leelanau School from the Glen Arbor Sun looks at how 2 Leelanau County schools are putting “fresh” on the menu.

Gene Peyerk, food service director at Glen Lake, explains that lunches “home” made in the school’s kitchen contain lower amounts of fat, cholesterol and sodium and higher grams of fiber. Even the kitchen’s corn dog, served with sweet potato fries, is healthier — with a turkey dog on the inside and whole grain outside.

Glen Lake Schools replaced processed heat-and-eat meals, warmed in microwave ovens or dunked in fryers, with lunches made mostly from scratch…

The transition brought with it a bit of a learning curve.

For three months, two serving lines were offered: one for the old food and one for fresher, homemade fare. “When all the old stuff was gone, for the first couple of weeks there was a revolt, (he chuckles at the memory), then it started picking up.”

He says many more students per day are buying lunch than they were before fresh foods were served, and they’re getting a taste for “watermelon, pineapples and all that stuff now. For so long, everything’s been processed.”

Some stealth cooking also is involved. Peyerk admits he “sneaks” 20 pounds of squash into the homemade macaroni-and-cheese sauce, “to yellow it up,” an idea he got while watching the Food Network on TV. (Students eat it and comment that “it’s a little sweet,” he relates with a grin.) The kitchen is serving more root vegetables too, such as beets, and he claims “the kids really like it.”

Read on for more and – because it’s awesome – here’s what Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has to say about school food. Jamie visited “the fattest city in America” and it was a compelling exploration of how we learn to eat and how we can learn to do it better. If you really want to see something shocking, check out Jamie’s chicken nugget experiment.