Plant Power in the Kitchen

Plant Power in the Kitchen

October 12, 2019 0 By Ewald Bahringer


Hello everyone, and thank you for joining
us for today’s webinar. The title of today’s webinar is, “Plant Power in the Kitchen.” My name is Julie BoarerPitchford and I am a Nutrition Education Consultant, with the
California Department of Education, Nutrition Services Division. I am so happy to have the
opportunity to team up with the Humane Society of the United States to bring you this Webinar.
As part of their mission, the Humane Society of the United States assists schools with
implementing plant-based meals through culinary workshops and resources on their Web site
on their Web site. We are really fortunate to have them as our partner in California.
As you can see, we have some great presenters lined up today from a variety of schools.
At this time I would like to introduce Lauren Pitts. from the Humane Society of the United
States who will be moderating the Webinar. Lauren is a registered dietitian and a Food
and Nutrition Specialist for the Humane Society of the United States where she works with
institutions in Southern California to add more plant-based options to their menus. Lauren
will now introduce our panel presenters. Go ahead Lauren. Thank You so much Julie. As
Julie said I’m Lauren Pitts I’m a registration dietitian with the Humane Society of the United
States. And, I am so excited to be on this Webinar and introduce our amazing speakers.
The first speaker will be Karla Dumas. Karla is a registered dietitian with the Humane
Society of United States and was a former supervisor of nutrition services at Sarasota
Public Schools where she started Meatless Mondays. The second speaker will be Reanna
Liversage. Reanna is a nutrition services technician with Banning Unified School District
where she also started Meatless Mondays and our third speaker is Kirsten Roloson. Kirsten
is the assistant director of nutrition services with Riverside Unified School District where
they are doing a wonderful job incorporating more plant-based options on the menus. Now
I am going to turn it over to our first speaker Karla Dumas. Karla take it away. Thanks so much Lauren. Thank you all for being part of this webinar today. I know all of you have
very busy schedules we appreciate the time taken and today we are going to talk about
Plant Power in the Kitchen. And Julie if you’d like to go to the next slide. And, when we
think about any kind of new initiative we know that the key to a successful program
is really thinking about actively engaging your customer and we know that in cafeterias
today our customer is Generation Z or lovingly called Gen Z and often times it can be a little
intimidating to think about what is going to appeal to them because they live in such
a fast-paced world they are used to having so much information come at them at a really
quick rate. But what we know and this data taken from Gordon Food Services is that Gen
Z is really thinking about where their food is coming from and wanting to know that. So,
words like sustainable, organic, natural really appeal to them. And, we note that this data
is corroborated by YPulse which is a research and consulting firm focusing on Gen Z and
millennial research. And, they recently conducted a survey in leadership discussion with food
service professionals and then what they found was that regardless of student age it appears
that these categories were trending up. And, you can see adding more fruits and vegetables,
International cuisine, food that’s fresh, fast and made from scratch, looking at more
choices. Next. And, what we also know is they found is that high school students especially
begin to follow eating patterns similar to young adults and college aged students where
we know that plant-based foods are really taking off and they think about food, nutrition
and ethical values. Next. Next slide. And, we know that these ideas are directly in line
with national culinary forecasts and one of that is that people are no longer scared of
fruits and vegetables although these peppers are kind of scary but wanting more of them
on their plate. This is something that we’ve been seeing a national level for several years
and it’s just picking up more and more. Next Slide. And we are seeing this happen in child
nutrition as well. If any of you saw last December’s school nutrition magazine there
was a large feature on plant-based protein power. Next. And this particular article looked
at plant based protein items that can be added at home but also at schools. Next. And we
know that studies show that the more veggie based meals that students are consuming and
at an earlier age can establish healthful, lifelong habits as you see there but it can
also reduce the risk for certain chronic diseases. Next. Like heart disease we know that heart
disease is the leading killer for both men and women in America but what you may or may
not know is that according to data from the American Heart Association, the early stages
of heart disease can be seen in children as young as 10 years old. So thinking about getting
kids really excited about fruits and vegetables and foods that are low in saturated fat and
cholesterol like whole grains and plant-based proteins is so key. Next. And, as Lauren indicated
prior to joining the Forward Food Program with the Humane Society I worked for a school
district in Florida for ten years and we did implement Meatless Monday as I’m sure many
of you on the call have as well. And, what we did we did this for a variety of different
reasons this was an actual email that I received from a student so we were getting this more
and more from students wanting to see more of these options but also a great way to tie
in nutrition education and health promotion. And when implementing a newer program we in
particular with Sarasota County started off with foods that would be familiar with students
that we knew they enjoyed already and then as the program became more established began
to explore more plant-based proteins and different recipes focusing on that. And, we know that
this is so critical because you can start a program with the best intentions and if
you don’t get the kids to enjoy it and to consume it, then they are not getting the
nutrition and the essential nutrients that they need there. Next. So that’s why we work
to develop resources that can make this very seamless for you. Last webinar Kristie talked
about some of the communication tools and in addition to that we have an ever-expanding
database of recipes and a free culinary training for your staff. And I know that especially
in California many of you have worked with Lauren to bring these trainings to your districts.
And this is a picture of a training that we did in city schools of Decatur. Next. And
these particular trainings these are just images of some of the trainings we’ve done
across the country. Um these are free and they can be done a variety of different ways
whether we bring food demonstrations and samplings to hands-on training where the staff is getting
to experience how easy and delicious the food can be. And, I am going to next show you a
sample of what some of those recipes would look like and we do provide a variety of different
recipes and the database is where you would choose those varieties. You can see we have
entrees and we have side dishes and it’s a great way to incorporate a lot of produce
items. So the next slide is going to show you a video of what this particular training
would look like it. Maybe. It does not look like it’s going to work and we’ll make sure
that we have this available if you are interested but this would have just given you an example
of what the training looked like from St.Joseph’s School District in Missouri. But what all of these recipes do entail is that they are plant based and a majority of
the recipes feature beans and legumes as a primary protein source or meat alternate option
of the meal. And, we try to incorporate this because universally these are the easiest
plant-based proteins for schools to source no matter how large or how small or how available
different products are. And if you can go to the next slide. They are one of the cheapest
options as well. This is an example of an email that I received. We’ve been working
with KinderCare which is an early childcare program and they recently incorporated several
plant-based recipes to their menus across the country and what they found was that not
only are the health benefits there but they saw a savings in food cost so saving money
on the protein they’re able to invest more and other meal and snack offerings on the
menu. And, this is something that I’m sure many of you have experienced as well and I
did coming from the school district I came from. So, we were able to filter a lot of
that cost savings into our farm-to-school initiative. And of course when we think about beans and legumes uh often times this is what comes
to mind. And, unfortunately beans tend to get a bad rap but what we know is that studies
show that the issues related to gastrointestinal distress are overestimated and this is not
something that we should necessarily worry about um but it is funny with the different
songs but there are certain things that you can do in the kitchen to limit any of that
that may happen and the biggest thing there is to really make sure that you’re rinsing
the beans and legumes well whether you’re using canned or you’re using dried beans and
this is also an added benefit because if you’re using canned beans, rinsing them really well
reduces up to 40% percent of the sodium content which is an added bonus.
And, we know that these foods can be turned into delicious dishes. This is one of our
recipes called the fiesta rice and bean shaker and this picture was taken from San Ysidro
School District’s training which was the very first it was our pilot workshop uh but this
is something that appeals to students in a variety of different ways as we saw there
wanting more grab-and-go uh kind of fresh items we’ve gotten feedback that students
saying it’s very similar to something you would see or prepare from a Chipotle or something
similar to that. Next slide. Or, if you’re especially working in a high school district
or secondary level trying something like a Mediterranean flatbread with a white bean
hummus is a great option. Next. Or, capturing that international flavor by doing a chana
masala or chickpea biryani. Next. And, another really popular culinary trend that we’re seeing
this year is this idea of vegetarian comfort foods. So, playing a little twist on some
of the familiar favorites like a savory shepherd’s pie using a variety of different beans and
legumes. Next. And, what we know is that this is not an all-or-nothing concept. So, some
of you may be doing a Meatless Monday, a Lean and Green looking to add more of these options
but another great way to add even more plant-based proteins is focusing on this idea of “blendability”
and this resource as you can see was taken from pulses.org they have a fantastic website
with different recipes but we’re seeing this taking over in many school districts the idea
of replacing half or all of the protein with beans and legumes and this is just one example.
Next. Another example of that is using a burger and I know that many school districts in California
and across the country are doing this. This is an example of what is called a “condo burger”
from a school district in New York and we’re seeing districts blend in mashed beans. This
particular one added some fruits and veggies by bringing in mushrooms and mango to add
a little burst of nutrition. Next. And of course we’re seeing more and more districts
adding tofu and often times it’s always great to feature this type of a recipe featuring
tofu in our workshops because I find that often times people have a preconceived notion
about tofu. And, what I would definitely say about that is to be used as a true ingredient
it takes on the flavors and spices and marinades and really can add to the recipes there. Next
slide. And, Oakland Unified School District is one of the school districts that’s having
great success with tofu, uh with a stir fried tofu with bok choy.
And we also know that there are many companies on the market that have products available
for schools to utilize so whether it is swapping out the meat for meatless products and existing
recipes or looking at prepared products that are available. Next. And, we know that many
programs naturally are tying in their plant powered dishes to their farm-to-school initiatives
or in California like your California Thursdays. Next. And, we’re seeing this done in a variety
of different ways. This is a snapshot from the school district that I came from and we
had the opportunity to have a large scale classroom nutrition education program and
we had the opportunity to bring in farmers and do tasting parties which is what you’re
seeing here where we had the opportunity to give kids the ability to try different foods
that they may not be familiar with and do it in a fun way and then when they saw these
foods in the cafeteria they were more likely to take them and to eat them. And, we are seeing more and more programs that have schools that have gardens tie this into their
plant power programs here so that students are able to harvest and try these foods and
get really invested in the initiative. Next. And, of course student tasting is so important
so the first step is doing one of our culinary workshops and getting staff excited about
these initiatives and tasting the foods and seeing what students would like and then bringing
these recipes to the students here. This was from City Schools of Decatur in Georgia and
this was one the recipes that we did in the workshop and then they brought to the students
that featured local kale. It’s called the “kicking kale salad” and it received rave
reviews with the students and will be on their menus soon.
And, of course then tying in the component for families as well. This was a newsletter
that we collaborated with KinderCare on by scaling down some of the plant-based recipes
they have on their menu so that families can prepare them at home as well as looking at
tips for introducing new foods so that kids are becoming even more familiar with these
foods. Not only at school but at home too. And, just to wrap everything up, really the
work and resources that we have to support your program that are doing such amazing and
important work is that we are trying to bring some of these educational tools in a fun way
so that kids are excited about plant-based proteins and fruits and vegetables and whole
grains. So thank you so much for letting me have the opportunity to share that information
with you and I am going to now pass everything over to Reanna. Hello everyone and thank you
for having me. My name is Reanna Liversage and I am a nutrition technician for Banning
Unified School District. I am so excited for this opportunity to share today because Meatless
Mondays has been an important tool for us to improve upon healthy food access. I would
like to share some of the fun we have had with Meatless Mondays and how we have incorporated
it into nutrition education for both students and staff. Okay so I am a firm believer that reducing meat consumption can have a tremendous positive
impact on our health and on our environment. Um before I begin talking about Meatless Monday’s
and plant power in our district, I would like to talk a little bit about our district in
the area that surrounds it. Now So the built environment of the city of
Banning contains very few grocery stores with surpluses of fast-food restaurants, convenience
stores making healthy food access a challenge. So we know this as a food desert. Next. According
to Riverside County’s health assessment data less than 48% of children in Riverside County
are eating enough uh fresh fruits and vegetables. As a school district we know we have an incredible
opportunity to improve food access by bringing in more fresh fruits and vegetables. Our district
started an initiative to create a healthier school environment through policy change through
nutrition education, promoting physical activity and by improving access to healthier foods.
Last year we started farm-to-school programs, joined the California Thursday’s network and
implemented Meatless Mondays which would all be used as platforms to support our initiative.
Next. Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Food Forward event at Loma Linda University
which was hosted by the Humane Society. They had various speakers from school districts,
hospitals, and health organizations that came to share their success stories with implementing
plant-based proteins. I was so inspired by the plethora of information on going meatless
and the impact that it has on our health in our environment. I just knew that our district
had to be a part of the Initiative. Now anytime you want to start a new program it we all
know it can be overwhelming but I felt like we had so much support from the Humane Society
from training to market materials to recipes, I was confident that we could successfully
implement it. Next slide please. We first started by planning our training day for our
staff and the Humane Society did a wonderful job in coordinating the training. They first
did a presentation on Meatless Mondays then they followed it with some cooking demonstrations
and recipe ideas. At the end of the training we all had the opportunity to taste some of
the delicious plant powered recipes. Our staff loved everything from the plant powered pasta
to the salsa to the Fiesta rice shakers. Having the Humane Society come to facilitate the
training was a very instrumental component and brought more credibility to the training.
Uh meeting the standards for professional development can make it difficult for administration
to maintain the buy-in and participation during trainings. It is easy for all of us to you
know kind of subconsciously, or unconsciously I should say, tune things out we’re all guilty
of it but by having the Humane Society as the trainer I felt that the training was more
captivating. Next slide please. So we knew that this was going to be a big change for
many and as always education is a very important it’s very important to the acceptance of new
practices. We partnered with um our County Department of Public Health and we did a store
tour event for our students and for our parents and it was supposed to be an interactive time
that families could come learn about nutrition education and spend time with one other as
well. So at the event students, families, and staff learned about the different food
groups around the store. They received prizes and raffle tickets and got to hear from dignitaries
the importance of a healthy diet. I was asked to man the protein aisle and do a mini lesson
about the protein group and I decided to talk about plant-based proteins and I added Meatless
Mondays as an addition to my lesson. I talked about the different types of plant-based proteins
their health benefits the cost savings and how as a district “one day a week, skip the
meat” has a tremendous impact on the environment. Participants were amazed by what they learned
so the education component justified the “why” and promoted buy-in.
Now I know we have all heard these words when rolling out new healthier menu items. “So
we tried that and they just didn’t like it” or “our kids just won’t eat that.” We were
already prepared for this and we decided to do a training on eating behaviors. We invited
nutrition educator Charisse Hendrickson with nutrition education obesity prevention to
do a lesson on children’s taste buds. What our staff learned was that a children’s taste
buds are more sensitive than adults. We also learned that it can take up to 15 tries before
a child will become familiar with the flavor and enjoy it. So this helped us to encourage
the staff to try something with our students a few times before determining it as a failed
menu item. Taste testing has also been very important
in the promotion of plant-based proteins amongst our staff. Some of the items our students
tasted included fruit and yogurt parfaits, tomato basil soup, vegetable chow mein and
vegetarian refried bean dip. One of the menus that we had some difficulty with was our vegetable
chow mein with fire-roasted edamame. Our staff was describing some of the difficulties they
were having with the recipe and we realized that some of these new plant-based proteins
were very new to our students and even to our staff. I decided to work with some of
the teachers and do some cooking demonstrations and taste testing events. This gave me the
opportunity to do a lesson for teachers and students on why we are going meatless and
then tied it into a MyPlate lesson. I felt like this was a very important because the
acceptance of the teachers also impacts the acceptance of the students for certain foods.
At the conclusion of the lessons the students did a taste test and as you can see from the
pictures they loved it. We had students asking for more of the edamame that was in the chow
mein and students were saying “we don’t even like tomatoes and we love the tomato soup”
so um the recipes the recipes that they once disliked, after some education, they now loved.
I was able to take these menu boards and show our staff that the recipes were well accepted
by our customers. So, I feel strongly with that with any new
program it is all about education and that our willingness is fostered by our understanding.
I would just like to share, next slide please, what one of our lead cooks had to share about
Meatless Mondays: “Meatless Monday’s has been a great tool to introduce our children to
foods that they would otherwise not be exposed to. We are continually improving our menus
and recipes to enhance our variety. Since our main objective is to offer clean foods
that are appetizing and appealing I am honored to say our kids are excited about the variety
we are offering and many look forward to Monday’s.” So I want to thank you all for having me be
a part of such a wonderful webinar series and I’m excited to see where um plant based
power and Meatless Monday’s takes us uh next year. So I will now hand the platform over
to Kirsten. Hi, I’m Kirsten Roloson. I’m the assistant
director of nutrition services for Riverside Unified School District. Um let’s see where
the slides here we go. So I’m going to start out by giving you just a brief history of
where we started and how we’re evolving as in the world of school nutrition. In um 2005
Riverside Unified opened our first farmer’s market salad bar that featured locally grown
seasonal produce. Within three years we had farmer’s market salad bars in all 30 of our
elementary schools. Since our secondary schools are not set up for a salad bar, we offered
a composed salad such as a summer berry salad or our take on a Waldorf salad that featured
our locally grown vegetables into a composed salad. So you know at that time our salad
bars were kind of our solution to a vegetarian meal when we had a meat based entrée on
the menu. Um so because we always had yogurt, we always had legumes, we always had hard-boiled
eggs and cheese on our salad bars, so we really felt like that was just a great option for
vegetarians. But as time passed and eating trends evolved, this wasn’t enough and our
vegetarian students were tired of salads and we had more students asking for plant based
options. This past summer I was contacted by one of
our school board members. Um his concern was that we didn’t have any hot entrees for our
vegan students and he was right. We had vegetarian students covered with cheese pizza, bean and
cheese burritos, cheese enchiladas, and pasta marinara sauce but we really didn’t have anything
for our plant-based eaters. So he put us in touch with Lauren Pitts and also with the
people at Hungry Planet. So this really opened up our world um to the opened up the world
to plant based eating for me and my team. Lauren came out to one of our cluster meetings
and gave a presentation on plant-based eating and gave a cooking demonstration. The demonstration
was awesome. Um my people were fully engaged and it was really helpful that my supervisors
didn’t even know the difference between vegetarian and vegan meal options. The cooking demonstrations
and the samples of the food was an excellent way to start the conversation with our people
about making some menu changes in our district. and it’s always helpful I find to get our
leads on board with any new ideas we have because they’re ultimately going to be the
ones who sell it to our students. So next up was sampling of a few of the products from
um that Lauren prepared as well as some samples we did from some um products that were given
to us by the Hungry Planet and my people were sold and they just really loved the options. So fortunately for us here in our USD we have a director that’s a trained chef. And, we
also have a group of supervisors that either have a vision or have some culinary chops
or both. So, we all got together and created our own test kitchen um to develop a line
of plant based entrees. We met, we brainstormed some ideas for entrees that they thought our
students would love. We tried a number of items and settled on eight to start with.
We gave the selected recipes to our dietitian to analyze and to recommend some changes to
make them our USDA compliant. Our next step was to introduce um them to the rest of our
team and again they were a hit. Our people loved the all the options. So, currently we’re serving a falafel pita sandwich and falafel salad bowls. Um we have
a “range free” uh western burger, a “range free” chicken which is plant-based, chicken
chili very rice bowl and I think if we thumb through some of these slides next few slides
you’ll see some of them. So the slide you’re looking at right now is a “range free” western
burger and I have to tell you it’s excellent. And then our team came up with the meatball
sandwich and it’s made with a plant-based Italian sausage tasting product that we formed
into balls and then we made the one clearly without cheese as plant based and the other
one as a vegetarian option. And then the next slide is a picture of our chicken chili verde
rice bowl. Um again we took the the “range free” chicken product and we we cut it into
cubes and we put it in our chili verde sauce and served it over brown rice. Uh it was it’s
excellent product you wouldn’t even know that it was plant-based. We served the amazing
lo mein um that Lauren demonstrated to our group our kids love. We have a vegetarian
wrap, again another thing our kids just really love. And then part of our um as our team
was working with recipes we came up with a plant-based chili um recipe that’s just excellent.
We came up with a Bolognese with a sausage meatball and all of these items are plant
based. There is no animal products in them whatsoever. And our people are just really
loving them. There we go and there’s a falafel sandwich
and a falafel salad. We’ve got a plant-based um um “range free” chicken enchilada in that
picture. So we offer several choices each day at our at our secondary schools and the
popularity is growing with our students and school site personnel. We found that our students
were afraid to try some new things because they didn’t want to get stuck with it. So
with any item you know what they choose for lunch is what they’ve got to eat that day.
So what we did is that we started making samples and while they were waiting in line to get
their lunch. We passed out the sample so they could actually taste them. Um it’s working,
the kids loved it they didn’t feel like they were taking a chance on something they didn’t
like. Um so some other things that we’re doing is that we are collecting some data on how
many plant based meals we’re serving each day at our secondary school so that we can
chart the benefits of plant-based um eating and what what that has in our environment.
Um we’re we’ll be introducing um a “range free” western burger in January to all of
our elementary students and if my hunch is right I think they’re going to love them.
Our older kids do, I’m sure our younger ones will as well. Um and our next plan plan is
to offer the plant-based chili in a bread bowl and then moving on from that we’re going
to offer the plant-based menus on Monday but we are not going to call it, promote it as
a Meatless Monday. Um but simply just offer vegetarian and and plant based options that
are already popular to our students. We really talked about it and I think psychologically
we hear when we hear meat-less, we think we’re getting we aren’t getting something, that
it’s less than what they would normally get. So, we are just going to move on, we’re going
to serve them the great food that they love and not necessarily tell them that it’s plant-based.
But then on Earth Day we’re going to make a special announcement as we’re serving our
um “range free” Western burgers to let them know how long they have been eating plant
based on Monday and to show them the impact its had on our environment with our charts
that we’re taking and collecting data on. So that’s kind of where we’re headed at our
USD so we’ve got some great salads that they’re going through and getting that are getting
some great option vegetarian options. Um my staff is fully invested, they love the idea,
they love the food. Our kids love the food and we’re continuing to work on some new um
ideas and recipes. So pretty much that’s our journey that you know I shared our USDs journey
to plant-based meal options. And, um I guess I’ll pass this over to Lauren for a question-and-answer
portion of the webinar. Well thank you all so much for your great
presentations it really really was inspiring. I could say I’ve had the opportunity to work
with both Kirsten and Reanna and they they both are doing a fabulous job and and really
leading the way on this so thank you very much. We will now have an opportunity for
questions and answers. You can type in your questions by selecting the Q&A tab at the
top right of the screen, typing in your question and then selecting the send button. And of
course if you have a specific question for one of the speakers please include that when
sending your question in. So I think what we’ll do while we’re waiting for those questions
to come in I’ll go ahead and kick it off with a simple one to get you started. Um what are
some of the most popular items on your menus? And, I think what I’m going to do is start
with Karla first and then we’ll do Reanna and then Kirsten. And Karla since you work
with multiple districts if you want to share what you’ve seen has been the most popular
with districts all over the country. Yeah, thank you Lauren I’m happy to share some of
the insight into what I’ve seen work really well is doing just plays on some of the more
basic food items so I know that we um I showed a picture and I know Reanna was talking about
the Fiesta rice and beans shaker, doing something as simple as that. It could also be easily
moved into a hot dish to do a fiesta rice and beans bowl. Um doing another take on that
an energizing edamame shaker we’re seeing a lot of success with I think that both of
the school districts had also done a play on a lo mein dish and that’s something that
we’re seeing as well. And even just a take on a protein packed chili we’re seeing more
and more. Or doing a lentil based sloppy Joe we’re seeing a lot of popularity there. So,
those are a few that come to mind right now. Wonderful, it sounds great. Reanna. Um I’d
say for us our most popular at the secondary level have been the um vegetable chili stuffed
baked potato. We also have an alfredo bake that we do with broccoli. Um for our secondary
or our elementary school we do the veggie chili also but we do it over potato wedges
instead of a baked potato. Um we also are going to be trying out a um maple biscuit
with a veggie sausage sandwich for breakfast. Um we’ve also got enchiladas and a rice, bean,
and cheese cup with uh tortilla chips. So those are our most and our fruit and yogurt
parfait for breakfast and steel-cut oatmeal. Those are all have been doing pretty well. Kirsten you want to share? Sure, so I would say our most popular is anything with falafel
the falafel pita sandwiches and the falafel salad are number one sellers followed by um
the range free burger and then um amazing lo mein. Our kids love anything in a bread
bowl so that the meatless chili is also a big hit. I would I have to say everything
we’re putting out there they’re loving I haven’t had anybody say they didn’t like it but I
would say those were our top um top choices with our kids right now. Wonderful, that it
so great to hear. And, all of those recipes you mentioned, you’re making me hungry. Um
uh so we do have actually several questions coming in so I’m going to go through some
of those right now. The first one is: Please share some of the plant-based recipes with
us. So I can go ahead and answer that you can actually go on our website at forwardfood.org
to find a lot of our recipes and then if you want specific recipes that these speakers
mentioned then we will be sharing their contact information and you can reach out to them
directly. Um the next one is: How do I connect to bring the trainer to my team? Are there
minimum number of participants needed to bring a trainer to our sites? Karla do you want
to go ahead and answer that they have more questions about the training specifically.
Yeah, I’d be happy to and I just want to say um you know as I go on to describe a little
bit more about this. With the trainings they we have a template but they are customizable
based on what your need is. So everything I’ll share is the general format but we’re
happy to look at exploring different options. So in general the training is about a two-hour
event and half of that is focusing on the food portion than half is talking a little
bit more about the “why’s” and the “how’s” and best practices in that way. And, we are
happy to travel anywhere across the country to bring these trainings to you. Uh we do
ask that there is if we can get a minimum of 20 attendees and if you are struggling
to meet that need we can certainly work with you or look to maybe partner to bring a few
closer school districts together to do a training. Um we’ve also done them at chapter meetings
for SNA in that way as well so we could work to do that. But the training itself does also
count towards professional standards and we’re happy to again, any of the recipes that we
have in our database we’re happy to highlight in the training so there’s not necessarily
a set menu it’s based on what you think would work for your students and get the staff excited
and what we’ve also done is in some of these trainings where there’s districts that are
looking for specific flavors or different recipes that are popular and they want to
just make a meatless or plant-based version, we’ve partnered with districts to create recipes
to help that as well so that’s another option. Thank you so much. Uh Kirsten a question for
you. Yes. You mentioned a product called Hungry Planet. Where can other districts find this
product? And, you know how was it to work with this product, was it difficult was it
easy for your staff to learn how to work with it? So, Hungry Planet is a St. Louis based
company. They have a representative here in California her name is Jody Boyman but if
you contact the healthy planet people um you can get on the in the um internet find them
they will respond back. Um they used to only sell to high-end restaurants and they’ve just
recently started getting into the k-12 scene but their product is excellent, it’s
very easy to work with. They have a preformed burger patty and but the rest of their food
comes um in it looks like bulk hamburger or bulk ground chicken and so for instance for
the chile verde rice bowl we took the chicken and we formed it into a sheet, we baked it
off, we cut it into cubes and then tossed it with our chili verde sauce. It’s really
easy to work with um and it’s a really excellent product that holds up well. Um it’s texturely
appealing and our people love it. So um excellent excellent product and they also have um an
italian sausage that we formed into our meatballs for our meatball sandwich um again all plant-based
and um just really excellent products but they you can find them on the internet and get in touch with them and they’re real easy to work with That’s great thank you. Yeah
I’ve worked with Hungry Planet as well with other districts and they do have a ton of
products out there. If that is something that you’re interested in we do have recipes that
can incorporate those products or of course we have recipes that just utilize foods that
you might already have in stock like beans and legumes. So with that since we’re talking
about plant-based meat alternatives. Um Karla and Reanna, if you all want to share, I don’t
know Reanna if you use any at all at your school district and Karla if you want to share
maybe some of the more popular ones that you have used at different school districts. Karla
if you want to go first. Yeah, I’d be happy to. Well, it seems like every year there’s
more and more products that are available on the market. Some that we have used in various
workshops and seeing schools have a lot of success with are some of the products similar
to um what we were talking about with Hungry Planet like a beefless crumble or a chicken
free chicken strip um from a company called Beyond Meat. Um so they have a variety of
products that are available that are compliant for schools as well. And, we’re seeing more
and more too with pasta type products that are made from chickpeas and lentils that are
we there’s actually a company called ProHealth Pasta that is labeled as a meat alternate
so that’s another fun way to get some of those products in there and of course kids love
pasta dishes and it’s also nice because those are naturally gluten-free so if you have students
that have a lot of food allergies or issues related with gluten and other foods that these
type of products would be great as well as many of the recipes that we have in the database
are naturally allergen free. Um we also at at in Banning Unified have worked with the
Beyond Meat. Um we haven’t used a lot of meat alternates yet with our elementary students
we’ve mostly been doing more beans and legumes. but next year we are going to be introducing
more meat alternates at our secondary one of our secondary sites we did make some of
our own pizzas there and we did a chicken alfredo with a Beyond Meat chicken strips
uh pizza and then we also did a sausage and olive and mushroom pizza um with the Beyond
Meat um crumble. Um we really like the Beyond Meat product especially the um crumble because
it is a pea protein and it is um soy free, gluten free. Um it is a very nice product
that really takes on the flavor of whatever you are cooking it in and has a good texture
to it as well. Thank you, yeah there are a lot of great products out there and they just
continue. I was just at the CSNA conference and I think there were maybe four different
booths there with meat alternative products the newest one that I saw was called Before
the Butcher that’s probably another one that you’re going to be seeing pretty soon so thank
you. Um I got a question in and this might a difficult one but it’s uh right on many
websites that white refined sugar is not vegan. When it comes to creating vegan recipes is
it something that you omit? What about bread grain items, is it free from animal based
products but contains sugar. Is this something that you avoid? So Karla if you want to start
first with that and then Reanna and then Kirsten. Yeah I’d be happy to thank you Lauren and
I will speak to the recipes that we have. We do have a couple recipes that do call
for sugar and technically that is true the granulated sugar is not technically vegan.
Um but what we try to do is incorporate as many whole food products as possible and with
those particular recipes for students especially that are I would say ethical vegans and really
focusing on that. Our recipes can be altered to swap out different ingredients so that
wouldn’t need to use sugar. And, I would just say you know with the different bread and
grain products I mean we’re working with school districts that have a variety of different
bids and companies. Um so when we call out ingredients excuse me specific ingredients
in our recipes we do try to indicate that it should be a plant based product or like
for example with different recipes that has mayonnaise or ranch using egg cream mayonnaise
or dairy free ranch to meet that need. Thank you so much. Reanna. Um we aren’t really adding
any uh we aren’t adding any extra sugars into our recipes so I don’t think we’ve had any
issues with this. Okay great and then Kirsten have you all run into this at all or had any
you know questions from students or anything like that. Right, not about sugar at which
like Reanna we don’t add sugar to any of our products especially our entrees. Um but I
have had that come up with yeast. And, there’s a certain group of our people who who um they
won’t eat yeast either. So, that’s become a little bit of a challenge but we’re working
around it. The falafel and you know a lot of our products as long as they don’t take
the bread part of it it works. So. Okay, so you’re just more letting you know the students
that are interested know that you know yeast might in there or something like that. At
least that they’re aware and then they can make their own decision. Right. Okay okay,
wonderful. Um can you all speak a little bit to the cost of implementing these programs
and initiatives? Karla I know you talked about it a little bit but if you wanted to um elaborate
a bit more and then again we’ll just kind of go down the line Brianna and then Kirsten.
Yeah, I can well I can speak to some of the cost savings that I saw when working in the
school district after we implemented Meatless Monday and were using more um meatless uh
protein options we did see that cost savings and sometimes we saw anywhere from you know
2 cents to we had a recipe where we saw about an 8 to 10 cents per serving cost savings.
So we were able to utilize that cost savings to expand upon our farm-to-school initiatives
and buy some more expensive local locally sourced produce and what we are seeing on
a national level is very similar to that I mean depending on the actual cost savings,
it really depends on what food items you’re focusing on and incorporating. I would say
that if you’re looking at using beans and legumes that’s generally going to help you
see the largest cost savings there. Um so whether you’re incorporating it as the entire
meat alternate or just one ounce of the meat alternate there you can still see that cost
savings. Reanna, have you seen any cost savings or has it been cost neutral or? Well I I definitely
believe that there’s a cost savings just because in general the cost of of meat products but
this being our first year in it um what our goal is is to at the end of the year kind
of look at more of the numbers and look at the data and compare it to the years prior.
Um we’ve also been able to get some grants and with those grants we use um the grant
money to um support some of the nutrition education that we’re doing where we are um
talking more about plant-based proteins and the taste testing and the farm-to-school and
the farmers markets um so um I’m hoping by the end of the year that we can do more of
a contrast from the savings from this year as opposed to last year when we were not implementing
the Meatless Mondays yet. Wonderful, wonderful. Kirsten? So I its kind of cost neutral for
us because what we find is that where we’re saving money using our commodity legumes our
beans and things like in our vegetarian chili offsets the costs of maybe spending a few
more cents on the meat alternatives such as the range free ground beef and and that.
But you know even with that said… it’s not that much more expensive to buy some of the
Hungry Planet products as it is to buy from our processors and we stopped buying a lot
of processed foods all together anyway in our district and we’re cooking from scratch
so the money we’re we’re saving off more than offsets any additional costs we have in providing
the fresh, locally grown vegetables that cost a little bit more than the canned of course.
So, we just find that we we just are shifting money around to make it healthy. That’s that’s
great and I would say that a lot of the districts that I work with um either are able to save
a little bit of money like you said and then you know use that for other things like a
meat alternative or fresh fruits and veggies and or they’re just seeing cost neutral which
is wonderful to be able to implement these programs. Um, another question that has come
in: Has anyone surveyed students to find out how to meet their preference needs? And, Reanna
if you want to start with that since Karla you don’t actually work with a district. We have not done that yet um the only really we have a snack group that we just
started and it’s a student Nutrition Advisory Council and they are going to be the ones
that start to work on surveys amongst their peers and that’s at the secondary level and
that is something that has come up that they said they wanted to do a project on but other
than that we have not done a survey on the preferences yet. Kirsten have you all done
that? So for quite a few years what we have done is we have vendor fairs and uh rather
than the vendors bringing their products to us to taste. We set up a fair at two of our
schools each year and the vendors present to about a hundred students at each of those
schools. They’re given samples of their products as well as our products because we have our
own booth of the items that we’re making and they have a survey and our children rate the
foods they liked, and what they didn’t like, what they liked about them, what they didn’t
like about them. Uh we go back and reformulate and then at the end of it we know we let them
know that in the survey their top choices are gonna be what they’re going to be eating
next year and so they really take it seriously we get a lot of really positive feedback.
We get a lot of um and and not just as they love everything but helpful suggestions, “yeah
we would like this better if” or “why don’t you have more” and that was another thing,
“why don’t you have more vegetarian dishes.” Um we’re eating differently now where can
I find those and so for a long time our students have made the decisions of what they’re going
to eat in school and and it’s worked for us. And- That’s great and I think so important.
Lauren. Oh go ahead. Yeah, if I could add to that, if I could add to that too. Absolutely.
Um our snacks students we actually took them up to the um California School Nutrition Association
conference in Sacramento and they did a presentation up there and um we took them to the food vendors
show and so they um we gave them all uh clip boards and they did do amongst um the five
of them that we brought up there they did a survey amongst themselves on based on the
foods that they tried and two of their favorite items were the um falafels and the um veggie
sausage and we do include our snack students in on the menu planning so they’ve um the
beginning of this year some of the things they wanted to see more on the item on the
menu were vegetarian soup so we added the veggie chili. They want to see um a salad
bar in their school um and they wanted to see a um veggie meat alternative for
breakfast so they were able to find that when they uh did the taste testing up at the food
vendor show. That’s great and I of course ran into you all, so it was so good to see
you but that’s amazing that you get to bring the students and they get to try the food
and then you know of course bring that back to the district. Wonderful well, I think um
that’s going to be it as far as questions it looks like we ran out of time. So, just
of course many thanks to our speakers for sharing great ideas for powering up with plant-based
meals in the kitchen. We hope that you’ve been inspired to incorporate these plant-based
meals into your programs. We have provided our contact information in case you want to
contact the speakers directly. Let me share that with you very quickly. Wonderful yeah
there’s our our contact information and that will be up for you. And this will conclude
the webinar so for school nutrition professionals this session provided one hour of professional
development. You can download a certificate of completion for your records by selecting
the file tab at the top left of the screen and then selecting the file transfer option.
Change to the next one. This webinar was also approved by the Commission on Dietetic registration
so RD’s and DTR’s can receive one continuing professional education unit please use the
link to a Google Form. So, once you put in your name and RD or DTR number you will then
be able to download your certificate. So thank you all again for participating again it was
very inspiring and I hope you have a wonderful day