More Fresh Fruit, Veggies and Healthy Meal Options in Our Schools

We asked and our students answered!

Earlier this year, the ACPS Department of School and Nutrition Services surveyed students in grades seven and ten to get feedback on their overall experience with school dining. We also conducted numerous taste tests and focus groups to get student feedback on potential products, recipes and about the future of school meals at ACPS and this is what we heard.

Students want more:

  • higher quality proteins
  • fresh produce
  • artisanal touches
  • speed scratch items – “semi-homemade” using quality ready-made products and adding a few fresh ingredients to personalize and round out the meal
Louay Abdel Sadig, 11th Grade

“I like that you can actually choose what you’re putting on your plate.” – Louay Abdel Sadig, 11th Grade

ACPS is committed to ensuring that all students are ready to learn by having access to nutritious, appealing school meals and including in the curriculum lessons on the importance of nutritious foods. It’s part of ACPS 2020 Every Student Succeeds Strategic Plan’s health and wellness goal.

To that end, we’re excited to announce some new changes this year around healthy meals and nutrition.

Cafe+Teria Fast Casual Concept Line Coming to T.C. Williams High School

Shakayla Farmer, 11th Grade

“I like that it’s a lot of vegetarian options and that we actually get to pick what we want and we can actually see what’s going into our food.” – Shakayla Farmer, 11th Grade

T.C. Williams High School students now have the opportunity to enjoy a fast, casual style, build-your-own-lunch entrée daily in the new Cafe+Teria line. Students can customize their entrée with fresh produce and quality proteins and cheeses. Students select ingredients in four steps to build a nutritious meal by picking a (1) base of a grain, salad or a wrap; (2) a protein: antibiotic-free chicken, ground beef, or Paneer cheese; (3) a topping of vegetables, fruit or cheese, and (4) a dressing.

The offerings were selected with students in mind and provide healthy, quality, delicious options with pleasing combinations that incorporate local produce from area farms. Cafe+Teria will rotate different cuisine styles throughout the month with several different international cuisine types including Mexican, Indian, Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean.

The program launched at the T.C. Williams High School King Street campus on the first day of school, with plans to have temporary pop-up Cafe+Teria’s at the T.C. Williams Minnie Howard campus and Francis C. Hammond and George Washington middle schools during the year.  

I feel like it’s a healthy option for all of us and we get to pick what we want to put on our own burrito, the other lines you have to go with the flow but this you get an opportunity to pick what you want to eat,” said a10th-Grade student.

New Grab and Go Station at T.C. Williams

Renovations are scheduled for the T.C. Williams Titan Express Snack Bar room over the winter break. The floor plan of the Express room will be opened up to provide more of a market experience featuring student favorite hot meals and new quick “On-the-Go” meals so students can spend less time in line and more time enjoying their break. Breakfast After the Bell, Lunch and Dinner Club will be offered here. Smart Snacks will also be available for purchase.

Upgraded Cafeterias at Francis C. Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools

Renovations are expected to be completed this Fall at our middle schools. Traditional lunch lines will be a thing of the past. Francis C. Hammond and George Washington middle schools will feature new, scramble-style serving stations, similar to what one would see at a food court. With student input on design, both cafeterias are also being upgraded and redesigned to provide a fresher, modern look to the school lunch experience.

Fresh Fruits and Veggies at Cora Kelly School and William Ramsay Elementary School

Students at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology and William Ramsay Elementary School can now enjoy free fresh fruits and vegetables as a snack during the school day, two to three days per week in addition to corresponding nutrition education. Options include fruit and vegetables such as purple potatoes, pomegranates, radishes and familiar but unusual varieties of old favorites like apples and citrus fruits with a preference to regionally grown produce as seasonally available.

Through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, ACPS is expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables available to children and aims to inspire lifelong healthy choices.

Greens and More Salad Bars in All Elementary Schools

As announced last year, ACPS is bringing Greens and More salad bars to our schools through a public-private partnership. All ACPS elementary and K-8 schools have access to fresh fruits and vegetables through the Greens and More salad bars, and secondary schools feature self-serve fruit and vegetable stations. Current USDA nutrition standards for school lunch require serving a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables each week. Salad bars and self-serve fruit and vegetable stations provide an easy way for schools to serve these options. Research and experience in schools across the country show that children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices in a school salad bar. 

Catch a Rainbow Every Day Program

During the month of September, a pilot nutrition curriculum program, Catch a Rainbow Every Day, is underway at Patrick Henry School and James K. Polk and John Adams elementary schools in select first-grade, second-grade and third-grade classrooms. The program consists of five grade-appropriate nutrition lessons that focus on food colors, food sensory, portion sizes and math skills. Students will also get to sample a corresponding vegetable from the color group that they’re studying:

  • Red – Grape Tomatoes
  • Yellow/Orange – Yellow Squash
  • Green – Kale
  • White – Cauliflower
  • Blue/Purple – Purple Potatoes

Funding for the program and training is provided by the Student Support and Academic Enrichments, Title IV, Part Grant. Once the pilot is complete, plans will be made to expand the program into additional classrooms, grade levels and schools.

We know that students who are healthy are better able to learn and attend school than those who are not and that families who are knowledgeable about health and wellness activities are able to encourage their children to make healthy decisions and pursue active lifestyles. ACPS is committed to enabling students to be healthy and ready as part of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan. Learn more about ACPS 2020 Goal 5: Health and Wellness.

ACPS, ACPS 2020, Alexandria City High School, Cora Kelly, George Washington, Hammond, John Adams, Patrick Henry, Polk, Ramsay