By EMILY RAMSEY
Union Public School’s Child Nutrition Department was recently featured in Food Management, a national publication, highlighting the school’s unique food offerings. The key is a combination of buying fresh and local, a creative and skillful chef, stellar food services management, and student taste tests, says Gretchen Haas-Bethel, executive director of communications.
The story highlights Union High School’s nine eating options, eight of which are located in the new Collegiate Academy.
All nine eating concepts offer healthy food options and local, organic produce. Lunch meal prices are $2.50, which includes an entree, vegetables, fruits, breads, rice or pasta, and milk. Breakfast meals are $1.15. Students who qualify for free and reduced price meals also may choose any of the nine areas for their meals.
Some of the establishments are open for breakfast as well as lunch, and one, the Cyber Café, is open all day.
Nutrition Services Director Lisa Griffin came to Union three years ago and saw that some changes were needed in the department. She then hired Eli Huff, a Union alumni and culinary school graduate.
He wanted to create menu options that included fresh fruit and vegetables and quality ingredients.
He spent his first year making new menus for Union’s 13 elementary schools, its sixth and seventh grade center, two schools for eighth and ninth graders, the alternative academy, and an early childhood center.
In creating food options for the high school, Huff had the challenge of creating varied menus that offered both convenience and sensory appeal.
The Union Street Market is one food area in the Collegiate Academy. It is basically a food court with four different food choices: Basil’s—Italian, Mercado de Salsa—Mexican, WokWorks—Asian, and House Specialties—American.
Huff’s dishes include kale, candy-roasted sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber salad with onions and sesame oil.
For much of his produce, Huff utilizes PeachCrest Farms, a certified organic farm in Stradford, Okla.
In addition, the school offers two kiosk stations: The Grill sells hot paninis and the Energy Bar is a quick a-la-carte option.
Students can also stop at a deli station with customized, made-to-order sandwiches. It serves up to 350 customers per day.
The old cafeteria, now called the Caf, offers burgers, sliders, chicken wings and a salad bar. 225 students and teachers visit the Caf each day for lunch and another 175 for breakfast.
The Cyber Café is open all day for students to surf the web, sip coffee and grab a quick bite. It is also open in the evenings when the Collegiate Academy hosts night classes for Tulsa Community College.
Read the article at food-management.com.