Greenville County Schools in Greenville, S.C
Eggs-perience Goes a Long Way:
The director of nutrition services for Greenville County Schools is no stranger to the food industry. Joe Urban can draw upon years of experience he gained working in restaurants prior to starting his current position. Urban looks to the culinary world for inspiration. Evidence of this is clear when reviewing the revamped meals served daily to the district’s 76,000-plus students.
“We’re on this crazy mission to completely reinvent school food,” said Urban as quoted in a local newspaper. As a first step towards this goal, he insists the district use only “wholesome products” to develop healthy menu items that serve up great taste along with good nutrition.
That sort of mission has its constraints when the nutrition director must figure out how to offer five tray components; a protein (chicken, hamburger, etc.), grains, two kinds of milk (chocolate and white), a cup of fruit and a cup of vegetables for an average of $2.50 per meal. Yet Urban manages within this budget to serve a wide variety of nutritious yet on-trend meal options, including five new composed salads. Three varieties, the Crispy Chicken, Buffalo Blue Chicken and Cobb salads contain hard-boiled eggs. Even better, the district is willing to share these recipes for other schools to try.
“Eggs are an inexpensive protein,” said Joe Urban. And this low cost means their inclusion as the protein element in a salad helps keep recipe development within budget. Cost alone wasn’t the primary motivator though. “They are a delicious and nutritious high-quality protein that our students love,” continued Urban.
That much is obvious when examining sales of the new composed salads. They’ve already proven themselves a great menu addition. “Composed entrée salad sales are up over 75 percent from last year,” said Urban. “The students love all of them.”
Part of this success might stem from the districts tried and true method of sampling new menu items. (See photo). This allows students the chance to try out the new menu items in sample form before rolling out the full entrée.
Of note, “The Little Big Fact Book: The Essential Guide to School Nutrition” released by the School Nutrition Association states that 71 percent of schools serve composed salads. These pose an eggs-cellent opportunity to add eggs as an inexpensive yet nutritious protein. And composed salads make a fantastic addition to any school’s grab-and-go line.
Don’t assume that eggs only make an appearance in the salad line at lunch. Currently, Greenville offers eggs and other proteins at breakfast every day to all students, with dishes such as Western & Sausage omelets or handheld Egg & Cheese Biscuits.
Greenville showcases just a few ways that eggs—versatile, tasty, nutritious and economical—provide a good source of protein for students in any school system.