Dallas Independent School District, in Dallas, TX
Texas is known for diving into things in a big way, and the Food and Child Nutrition Services (FCNS) team in the Dallas Independent School District is no different. (Speaking of big, the Dallas ISD has 230 schools with a student body of more than 155,000, making it the 14th largest district in the country.) Since new FCNS leadership came on board about three years ago, the district went from negligible egg use to planning for more than a million servings during the 2019/20 school year.
Why the change? Speaking on behalf of the district’s nutrition team, FCNS Menu Planner, Betsy Wooldridge, attributes the increase in egg use within the school district to a number of reasons – student diversity, changing dietary patterns and versatility. “Here in Dallas, we have had an increased number of students that have requested vegetarian options, due to cultural or religious preferences,” she says. “Eggs are a universally recognized vegetarian source of protein, and they are delicious. Another bonus is that eggs are reasonably priced compared to other sources of protein, and so we can provide a wholesome meal to our students at a lower cost.”
Adapting to change
When FCNS Director Michael Rosenberger along with Director of Support Services, Julie Farris, and Executive Chef Trina Nelson began working with the Dallas ISD in 2017, there were no eggs on Breakfast in the Classroom menus, nor in lunch or After School Meals (ASM). The team began incorporating more eggs into menu cycles because, “eggs are extremely versatile…we are using them for all three meals: breakfast, lunch and ASM (after-school meals). Also, eggs are a wonderful option for our vegetarian students.”
With this in mind, the FCNS team tested several egg items on the menus, during the 2018/2019 school year. In one instance, hard-boiled eggs were offered to high school students for the first time in more than a decade, and in another, vegetarian fried rice with scrambled eggs was added to the ASM menu. The success of these test runs and other sampling during the annual district-wide Food Festival led to the team planning for five new egg-containing entrées in SY 19/20 – two BIC, two lunch and 1 ASM. Tally them all up, and that’s 1.3 million new egg servings.
New menu offerings
- Vegetarian Fried Rice Bowl – ASM
- Power Protein Smart Box with hard-boiled eggs – ASM
- Scrambled Eggs – optional side dish at high school breakfast
- Breakfast Taco – high school breakfast, elementary + middle school BIC
- Breakfast Wrap – elementary and middle school BIC
In addition to the aforementioned new eggcellent menu offerings, the Dallas ISD is working on details to insert a Brunch for Lunch day into their menu cycle. As for what’s next, Wooldridge says, “we draw ideas from many different sources, including social media and industry websites. Seeing what other school districts are having success with is very helpful to us. Many times, we will take another district’s concept or recipe and modify it to fit our needs.”
Eggs In Schools can’t wait to see what the Dallas ISD does for 2021.