October 02, 2023

“Lettuce” tell you about Florence ISD’s newest accolade — the “Turnip the Beet” award from the USDA!

This award recognizes sponsors of children’s summer meal programs that are appetizing, appealing, nutritious and high in quality. Use of local foods is lauded, and award-winning programs should include a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Low-fat and fat-free dairy products are also encouraged. Bonus points were given for having a variety of entrée types, with entrees repeated two or fewer times per week, and for having at least one serving per week each of a dark green vegetable, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables and other vegetables.

Just 98 summer meal sponsors across the nation were recognized for their 2022 programs — and only 26 in Texas. Awardees are split into gold, silver and bronze categories; Florence was named a silver award winner.

During the summer, Florence ISD provided scratch-made hot breakfasts, as well as lunch at no cost for children ages 18 and younger and enrolled students up to 21 years old with disabilities.

During the school year, middle and high school students enjoy access to a salad bar during lunch and have several additional vegetables and fruits from which to choose in addition to their entrée and grain selections. Elementary school students typically have three vegetable and two fruit choices as well as a variety of entrée choices at each lunch. The district makes it a priority to source foods from local providers.

Lillian Barnett, Florence ISD Child Nutrition Director, says her team focuses serving student favorites, with popular items being pizza, burgers, tacos and Asian-inspired meals.

“We also partner with local farmers to serve various produce such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and ‘try-it-you-might-like-it-items’ like beets, kale and radishes,” she said.

School districts across the nation often have lunch programs during the summer to ensure children are receiving nutritious meals that are crucial to their growth and development. According to the USDA, high quality meals during the summer provide daily energy and help make sure children are healthy and ready to learn when they return to school in the fall.

We are happy our Nolina students will be attending schools dedicated to giving kiddos a healthy start that can turn into a lifelong path toward healthy living!