YSU dietary students get experience in Austintown

Schools across the Mahoning Valley struggle to meet federal lunch guidelines.

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A local school cafeteria is doubling up as a classroom for 27 Youngstown State University dietary technician students.

They are interning at Austintown Intermediate School’s cafeteria. The three weeks in the lunchroom are designed to teach them about school nutrition and what goes into planning a school lunch menu.

Schools have to follow federal guidelines for veggies, fruits, protein, grains and even snacks.

“There is actually different sub groups of vegetables that have to be represented on a weekly basis. There is dark green leafy vegetables but then you also have to get into the red and orange and yellow vegetables,” YSU dietary technician student Michelle Golladay said. “Those guidelines are always changing but I do believe they are for the better, kind of allowing our kids to have at least one balanced meal every day at school.”

“I break down all my menus into carbohydrate counts for the school nurses and the school medical assistants because there is such a big epidemic of diabetes,” Austintown Schools Food Service Director Tascin Brooks said.

She said elementary students are more on board with healthier lunch menus because these are the foods most are growing up eating, like the school’s whole grain pizza.

“I have to pull apart every component that is in that menu and know the fat, the sodium and the saturated fats, how many grains it adds to a menu, how many proteins it adds to a menu,” Brooks said.

Valley Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, introduced legislation Wednesday to make school lunches a little greener. The Salad Bar in Schools Expansion Act wants to put salad bars in schools across the country to make sure kids get the right amount of veggies.

The Austintown Local School District has had salad bars in the past, and students actually liked them, but Brooks said they can be expensive and labor intensive. But she said she is open to the idea of trying it again.

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