It’s no wonder that Gooding Elementary in Idaho was the first school in the nation to achieve the HealthierUS School Challenge’s Gold with Distinction Award. The school and the district’s Food Services department are always finding new ways to promote healthy lifestyles for children.
In the cafeteria, students scoop up unlimited servings of fruits and vegetables at the “Healthy Choice Bar,” which was the key to our success in more than doubling fruit and vegetable consumption in our cafeterias. Much of the produce is locally grown (our current seasonal selection includes tomatoes, sweet corn on the cob, bell peppers, pluots, cantaloupe and grapes). Lunches also feature fish from a local hatchery and Idaho grown potatoes with topping like low-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream, salsa, olives, chopped broccoli, home-made chili, ground turkey and beef and cottage cheese.
The Food Services staff likes to prepare many of their entrees and most baked goods from scratch using whole grain ingredients and absolutely no fryers. The team even came up with a healthy treat – they substitute pureed beans for some of the oil in the chocolate cake, and the students don’t even notice the difference.
Gooding Schools do more than just serve up healthy meals – they’ve eliminated the junk food in school vending machines and they are working to educate students and families on the benefits of good nutrition and exercise through initiatives like our school wide walking program, an annual community walk, “Walk to School Day” and Idaho Healthy Harvest.