Morgan Hill Unified School District announced earlier this month that it has achieved Eat Real certification at the green tier. 

The certification “recognizes MHUSD’s commitment to serving nutritious, local and high-quality meals that support the health and well-being of our students,” says a press release from the district.   

“This achievement demonstrates the impact of school nutrition programs when empowered to reimagine school food,” the district’s announcement continues. “These changes toward more scratch-cooked entrees, reduced added sugar, increased local produce and animal protein offerings, and much more, provide for healthier meals, creating powerful benefits in over half a million lunches served annually to over 8,000 students. 

“Creating the best possible meals has always been MHUSD’s goal, and working with Eat Real has helped the district implement this vision.”

MHUSD Director of Student Nutrition Michael Jochner said, “Our partnership with Eat Real has opened our eyes to source higher quality ingredients and local products, pushing our program further than we’d imagined, and we’re grateful. Eat Real is the blueprint for school districts looking to make real change in their programs.”  

Through the certification process, MHUSD has increased and amplified its local produce and animal protein offerings, and sourced high-quality, regenerative beef patties, hot dogs and organic milk from Richards Ranch, CreamCo and Straus Creamery, the district added. Salad offerings showcase an incredible array of local bounties. 

“A high school football player arrived late for lunch one day, and all we had were our locally sourced Chef salads,” Jochner shared. “He said, ‘What do I look like, a salad guy?’ He took the salad, returned once he’d eaten it, and said, ‘Wow! I’m a salad guy now!’” 

MHUSD is also one of the first school districts in the nation to use Freight Farms FarmTech, a program for two freight containers at MHUSD’s high schools. These containers produce 450 pounds of spring mix lettuce per week and can grow 8,000 heads of lettuce from just one shower’s worth of water.   

MHUSD has also made strides in reducing added sugar and food waste from school meals by removing juice and flavored milk from menus and emphasizing sourcing or making sauces, dressings and condiments with less than six grams of added sugar per serving, adds the press release. These changes have removed an average of 34 pounds of added sugar per year per student. 

Additionally, a shift to cooking from scratch, eliminating plastic straws, utilizing biodegradable service trays and implementing a bulk milk program has removed over 125,000 milk cartons and reduced daily trash bin waste from four bins to just one, according to MHUSD.

Eat Real’s mission is to nourish the future of American children by putting real food on the table at school, at home and in local and federal policy, the press release continues. The Eat Real certification program evaluates districts on 10 standards above and beyond federal and state child nutrition program regulations, covering everything from nutrition, freshness and minimal processing to responsible, sustainable production and procurement practices.   

“MHUSD is just getting started,” the district said. “The nutrition team plans to innovate creative solutions and technology to grow a more robust student meal program. They continue to test new recipes using local ingredients and are eyeing a district farm!” 

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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