“Our project involves healthy upgrades of the items offered at the school’s café, and we’re serving those foods to students on fresh, white reusable serving trays,” said Chris Dougherty, superintendent of Taylorville CUSD3, referencing national and locally conducted research that suggests students more often choose healthy foods when their selections are presented on a white plate.
A $32,442 grant from the Taylorville Memorial Foundation covered the cost of purchasing 234 dozen reusable white trays to accommodate the district’s 2,300 K-12 students as well as faculty and staff members.
In addition, the grant provided a warm food display case and a grab-and-go cooler at the junior high school and at the high school. High school students also have access to a smoothie station featuring 10 Bullet brand blenders and blender cups.
“The smoothie station is a wonderful non-meat, high-protein option,” said Dougherty. The district looks to install a smoothie station at the junior high school in the near future.
“We’re proud to help our local school district provide nutritious meals to students,” said Raedena Ryan, executive director of the Taylorville Memorial Foundation. “Investing in these types of projects creates opportunities for young people to engage in learning about nutrition and how best to care for their own bodies and health, which contributes to the long-term health of our region.”
“In our most recent community health needs assessment, we identified obesity, lung health and mental health as our hospital’s top community health priorities,” said Ryan. “The priorities determined in our community health needs assessment help us be strategic in our partnerships.”
To that end, the hospital and the school district in Taylorville will partner to provide nutrition and wellness education to students throughout the school year.
In addition to offering meals served on white trays and the installation of warm and cold food display cases, the school district has also began offering water as a drink option and has created outdoor dining spaces for students to use when weather permitting.
“We’re offering them fresh, open air spaces in which to eat their meals,” said Dougherty. “We’ve not only reexamined the food options we offer in the cafeterias, but the whole experience of eating a meal at school.”
That included arranging the cafeterias to work more like a food court, where students can select a food they want to eat and receive it faster, without having to wait in one long line, said Dougherty. There is also a preorder app students can use to preorder their meal.
“The last thing I want is for a student to look at the line and think, ‘I’m going to skip eating because I don’t want to stand in that line,’” said Dougherty. “We removed that barrier to students getting nutrition.”
To learn more about Taylorville Memorial Foundation, visit memorial.health/tmf or call 217-707-5271.