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Cafeterias serving local produce, testing new breakfast

Cafeteria employees at Liberty Middle School prepare sweet potatoes from Cullman. (CONTRIBUTED)
Cafeteria employees at Liberty Middle School prepare sweet potatoes from Cullman. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Cafeteria workers are trying new options and servings for children in Madison City Schools.

Madison Elementary School is piloting a new approach for breakfast. The Grab ‘n Go breakfast program “is designed to ensure healthier choices, be more efficient to manage and perhaps more fun and user friendly for the kids,” Marty Tatara said.

Tatara works as child nutrition program supervisor for the school district.

Tatara hopes more students will eat breakfast at school with the Grab ‘n Go option. “Having breakfast in the morning also helps children develop healthy eating habits and contributes to their overall well-being,” she said.

“Instead of going through a tray line with the freedom to make more random choices, students will receive an attractively packaged breakfast,” Tatara said. Cafeteria workers stuff bags with nutritionally balanced selections.

Breakfast costs $1.75, the same amount as a regular breakfast. Reduced-price breakfast is 40 cents.

Each breakfast includes milk, fruit or fruit juice and another item like Dannon yogurt, Nutrigrain cereal bars, sausage and biscuit, Pillsbury mini-pancakes or whole-grain Kellogg’s Pop Tarts. For a complete menu and nutritional analysis, visit madisoncity.k12.al.us.

The pilot will run until Dec. 20.

In all Madison cafeterias, Tatara has increased fresh produce grown at local farms. On Aug. 27, the menu included roasted sweet-potato wedges from Haynes Farm in Cullman.

Sweet potatoes are quite nutritious, with carbohydrates, protein and beta-carotene. “NASA chose the sweet potato as one of the crops for its Advanced Life Support Program,” Tatara said. The vegetable is easy to grow in different environments, and farmers can regenerate the tubers easily.

In upcoming weeks, cafeterias will serve cherry tomatoes and watermelon from Gadsden, Tatara said.

“The focus will involve all schools in the Madison school district. We’re doing this to enhance the nutritional quality of our meals and support Alabama farmers,” she said.

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