TNC 038: School Nutrition Today

School nutrition includes school lunch, breakfast, after-school snacks, supper and more. Learn about what's happening today in school nutrition with Donna Martin RD.

I’m so excited to have Donna Martin, RD on the show today to talk about school nutrition today.
She is the School Nutrition Director for the Burke County School system in Waynesboro, GA and also the President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for the present year (2017-2018).
Donna and I talk about school food, breaking down the basics around the school lunch program, the strengths of the program, where we’ve been, how far we’ve come, and where the school food program is headed, as well as the daily challenges of being a school nutrition director, her career and more.

What You Will Learn About School Nutrition 

  • The story of school lunch and how it has evolved over time
  • The reasons it is important for kids
  • The nutrition guidelines schools pay attention to when planning meals
  • The financials of school lunch – pay, reduced, free –and who qualifies for what 
  • The successes and failures 
  • Special successes in school nutrition for athletes
  • Ways to build student autonomy with food choice and eating
  • Advice for families who are starting the school year 
  • How to help children choose and eat a healthy lunch at school  
You almost need a PhD to plan a school lunch menu. via @DonnaMartinRD Click To Tweet

What We Discuss about School Nutrition

  • Donna’s background and how she got involved in school nutrition
  • The specific guidelines for sodium, vegetables, calories, milk, whole grains and desserts
  • Budget constraints with running a school program
  • Federal government subsidies for school programs
  • Speed scratch cooking
  • The Supper Program, Breakfast in the Classroom, and rollbacks in school 
  • 3 tips for helping kids start school
  • Silent lunchrooms and community eligibility
  • Stigma and school lunch — is it better or worse?
  • What the future of school nutrition holds and how you can get involved
The lunchroom needs to be a place where everyone is equal. via @DonnaMartinRD Click To Tweet

Links I Mention in the Show

Episode # 007 How to Help Your Child Eat a Healthy School Lunch
How to Teach and Train Your Child to Make Healthy Choices
25 Shelf-Stable, Food Allergy Friendly Snacks for School
A Guide to Independent School Lunch Packing for Kids (+ FREE Step-by-Step System)
Bringing Lunch for School
Burke County Public Schools Nutrition (website)
Donna on Facebook: DonnaSMartin
Donna on Twitter: @DonnaMartinRD

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Share Your Thoughts

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  1. I enjoyed this podcast. But it leaves me wondering why there is such a disparity among school districts regarding the school lunch program. I am not seeing the positive healthy choices that Donna Martin describes. If she saw the menu at our school in VA, I think she’d be as shocked as I am. Definitely no farm to table. Definitely not great selection of fruits and veggies. One option is a cup of
    “frozen fruit juice.” Pizza twice a week, nachos, hot dog, corn dog, etc. It leaves me wondering how this could be and how we can change this? I pack my kids’ lunch every day to make sure it’s healthy. It’s sad that not all parents have time, money or know-how to do that.

  2. I agree that disparity exists. I think Donna has done a great job within her school district and is aware of the challenges nation-wide. She is the perfect person and role model of what school nutrition programs could be! I’d invite you to share this podcast episode with the schools in your area — sometimes people just need some inspiration and evidence that things could be different! Thanks for listening 😉