Nutritious meals are the foundation of any healthy eating plan and the school breakfast and lunch meals remain the cornerstone of all school based child nutrition programs. It is the position of Chartwells School Dining Services that we become active participants in fostering healthy school environments in the communities we serve. Creating a healthy school environment involves the collaboration of many, including Administrators, Parents, and School Dining Managers. At Chartwells, we take this responsibility very seriously and aim to be an integral part of the wellness solution.
Chartwells employs more food and nutrition specialists serving the academic community than any other food service company. All of our recipes, menus and nutrition programs are designed by a network of Registered Dietitians and professional Chefs. This team provides local support for every school district we serve.
With our Eat. Learn. Live. philosophy, we truly incorporate a strong foundation for healthy lifestyles into every aspect of our food service program – healthy foods, effective wellness education, and a commitment to sustainable initiatives and locally-grown produce that benefit the community. Within this umbrella is Balance – It Takes You®, our comprehensive approach to Wellness, Sustainability, and Community.
Visit the links below or at right to learn more about our innovative programs and services.
Balance – It Takes You
Learn about our new comprehensive wellness program for schools
Review Chartwells’ approach to the new school meals regulations and read about our nutrition education programs
Familiarize yourself with our sustainability practices for our food service programs
See how Chartwells partners with national and local groups to improve the health and wellness of the entire school district community
Balance – It Takes You® is our comprehensive approach to Wellness, Sustainability, and Community. It is our foundational framework to ensure our menus and all of our offerings meet superior food and nutrition standards. This means we offer high-quality foods with nutrient-rich ingredients. It’s no surprise that Sustainability and Community are at the very core of our efforts too, including our locally grown and school garden programs, responsible purchasing, waste and energy management, and community engagement and support.
The Balance Website
There’s a lot of confusing nutrition information out there so we’ve developed a website that provides helpful information and tools for families outside of the school environment. Our Balance website is a wellness destination that provides healthy recipes and nutrition information, as well as wellness and sustainability articles of interest. This go-to resource is a partnership with EatingWell Media Group, a well-known and highly respected publisher of a national consumer magazine and other food, health, and wellness communications.
Visit the website at Balance.Compass-usa.com
School Meals Regulations
Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act
The landmark legislation passed in 2010, The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA), made significant changes and provided great opportunities for improvement to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program.
When the HHFKA was passed, we made immediate adjustments in our programs to align with new law and to make changes now that are going to be required in the future, such as:
- Providing only fat-free and low-fat milk, eliminating high fructose corn syrup in milk, and reducing total added sugar in flavored milk.
- Adding drinking water to all dining programs at no additional cost to students
- Promoting the availability of after-school meal programs that are offered in all 50 states.
New Meal Standards for Breakfast and Lunch
The HHFKA also called for an update to the national meal standards for the breakfast and lunch programs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released these new standards in January 2012, and Chartwells has been hard at work preparing our districts to implement them beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. Below are some highlights of the new regulations:
- The new meal standards bring school meals in line with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- These new school meal regulations will start in the 2012-2013 school year.
- Further changes to both breakfast and lunch will be required in following years (2013-2014 and 2014-2015).
Increase in Fruits and Vegetables
The new regulations require schools to offer a larger amount and increased variety of nutrient-dense vegetables over the course of the week, including dark green, orange, starchy vegetables and legumes (beans) and there is a minimum required each day.
- Fruit is required daily and at increased portion sizes.
- Requiring a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables will expose students to more nutrient-dense foods that are a part of a healthy diet.
Allowable Grains and Proteins
- Menus must offer specific amounts of whole grains and proteins throughout the week, but cannot exceed maximum amounts defined for each grade group. Half of the grains offered at lunch each week must be whole grain rich.
- This requirement will apply to breakfast in school year 2013-2014, and by school year 2014-2015 only whole grain rich foods will be allowable in both the breakfast and lunch programs.
- Chartwells has already made great strides in increasing the variety of whole grains on our menus, serving items like whole grain pizza crust, rolls, muffins, pancakes, waffles and cereal.
Reduction of Saturated Fats, Sodium, and Elimination of Trans Fats
- School breakfasts and lunches offered to all age/grade groups must, on average over the school week, provide less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat.
- The new guidelines establish a timeline for reducing sodium in school meals significantly over the next 10 years.
- Chartwells chefs and registered dietitians have worked to modify and develop creative new recipes using non-salt seasonings, herbs and tasty fresh food.
- Under the new final rule, schools can only use food products and ingredients that contain zero grams of trans fat per serving, as indicated on the nutrition label, beginning in 2012 for lunch and 2013 for breakfast.
Menus by Age Groups
- The regulations established new grade groups for menu planning, aimed at ensuring students receive age-appropriate portions and nutrients. The groups include:
- Grades K-5 (ages 5-10 years)
- Grades 6-8 (ages 11-13 years)
- Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18 years)
- New calorie requirements were also developed to align with the newly established grade groups.
- Menus must provide adequate, but not excessive, calories for the various age groups.
Our chefs and dietitians developed new products, recipes, and menus to meet the new standards while continuing to offer the quality and variety students love. Here are just a few more highlights of what Chartwells is doing to implement the new standards successfully in our cafeterias:
- New Pizza and Wraps – The new regulations have put limits on the amount of grains offered to students over the course of the week. This means some recipes and products needed to be adjusted and decreased in size to fit the meal pattern. Though we achieved this goal with our revision of our pizza and wrap recipes, we also feel students will still find these items just as tasty and satisfying as they did before.
- Enticing Serving Solutions – All student meals must now include a fruit or vegetable according to the new regulations. We’ve developed menus, recipes, and serving line set ups that will make it easier, and hopefully more appealing, for students to select a balanced, complete meal.
- Student Communication – It’s important students understand the changes going on in the cafeteria. That’s why we’ve provided public address (PA) announcements for schools to read over the intercom system during the school day, covering a variety of topics and highlighting foods on the menu.
- Informational Posters and Signs – To ensure students understand what comes with their meal and what they must select for a complete student meal, we’ve developed a variety of posters and signs for the cafeteria and serving line in elementary, middle, and high schools.
As leaders in nutrition, we strive to spread our knowledge of health and wellness to students, teachers, parents, the community, and our associates. Through learning opportunities and communications, we extend hot topics, nutritional information, and healthy recipes far beyond our kitchens. We have a wide variety of educational and informational programs – just a few are described below.
Monthly Food Focuses
Our Food Focus program highlights a different group of nutritious foods each month and links the menu to nutrition education in the cafeteria and classroom. The highlighted foods are offered on the menu and nutrition messages about the foods are posted both on the menu and throughout the cafeteria. In-cafeteria culinary demonstration tables featuring tasty recipes and nutrition information also help to engage students. Teachers have the option to post information about the Food Focus in their classroom or hallways via our ready-to-print-and-post bulletin board materials. Finally, teachers are encouraged to conduct a 10-minute lesson with their students highlighting the Food Focus of the month.
10-Minute Nutrition and Sustainability Lessons
The Chartwells nutrition team has developed 10-Minute Nutrition Lesson Plans for teachers as a quick way to teach nutrition concepts to their students. The lessons are designed to maximize instructional time and require little or no materials. With a variety of topics to choose from, and lessons being broken down by grade level so that teachers can more easily incorporate nutrition into their daily lesson plans. Educators can access the lessons on our online Teacher Resource Website, and also find additional free resources for teaching nutrition education to students.
Chartwells Classroom Connect and Kids Eat Right
Childhood obesity is a national concern of growing importance to schools and parents alike. We are taking a leadership position in the industry by partnering with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to bring the Kids Eat Right Campaign to your schools and community. We’ve developed a school-specific program, Chartwells Classroom Connect, to bring Chartwells and local registered dieticians to the classroom to provide nutrition education.
National Nutrition Month
Our annual National Nutrition Month campaign is designed by our nutrition teams and combines healthy eating information with unique recipes that utilize nutrient-dense foods that taste great. The program includes:
- Classroom activities
- Themed cafeteria meals
- Displays and taste tests
Partnersthip with MyPlate and USDA
Chartwells is the first foodservice company that is a National Strategic Partner in the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). We work with the USDA to get the message out to customers about MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines, and also work directly with CNPP to develop and execute a strategic nutrition promotion plan.
Our Eat. Learn. Live. philosophy incorporates a strong commitment to reducing our carbon footprint. When we nourish the environment, we nourish your students, school district, and community. Our sustainable purchasing programs support this initiative in a number of ways, including:
- Locally grown produce (for more information on local produce and school gardens, see below).
- Locally sourced milk and bread.
- Seafood – our standards meet the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” program guidelines. We use the program’s “Best Choices” and “Good Alternatives” to ensure sustainable seafood in our meals.
- Milk – rBGH free, reduced sugar, and no high fructose corn syrup.
- Chicken raised without the use of non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.
A Flexitarian is someone who isn’t necessarily a vegetarian but actively incorporates meals with plant based protein into his/her meals in place of meat or other animal proteins. By making a slight change in our diet by simply eating one meat-free meal a week, we can make an impact on both our health and the environment. Our Flexitarian program promotes vegetarian options such as plant-based entrees, and fresh and local fruits and vegetables. Examples of our popular meatless entrees include:
- Southwest corn and black bean salad
- Hummus with vegetables and whole grain pita triangles
- Veggie burgers
- Tex-Mex hot dishes made with beans as protein source
Local Produce and School Gardens
We are always looking for opportunities to feature fresh, local ingredients in our menus, provide visibility for local produce, and build awareness of the many health and environmental benefits of eating well and buying local. We’ve seen first-hand the benefits of local produce initiatives and work with our school districts to incorporate them into the food service program whenever possible. Our programs include:
- Flash Frozen Program – preserves local foods so they can be enjoyed all year long.
- Local Harvest Campaign – encourages local produce vendors to purchase seasonal fruits and vegetables from area farmers so we can make the freshest foods in our kitchens.
- Chartwells Garden Guide – We’ve developed a resource for Chartwells directors to use in supporting school gardens in their district. The Guide also outlines a procedure for serving garden produce in the cafeteria if the district chooses to do so. Gardens are a great way to bring fruits and vegetables to your school campus, creating an interactive experience for students.
- We are also available to provide on-site food samplings of locally-grown fruits and vegetables in our cafeterias and sponsor farm tours so students can see agriculture in action
Chartwells recognizes the importance of team effort, and partners with and supports a variety of organizations and initiatives to bring the best nutrition programs and knowledge to our school districts. A few of these partnerships are described below:
Childhood Obesity and Hunger Prevention
Approximately 12.3 million children aged 2 - 19 are obese and 16 million children live in food insecure homes, according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the USDA. Since students spend a significant portion of their day in the school environment, schools are uniquely positioned to ensure students are adequately nourished and to teach the fundamentals of good health.
Chartwells takes a leadership role in many of the most prestigious and effective organizations and initiatives addressing childhood obesity and hunger problems in the U.S. These partnerships include:
- Culinary Institute of America Healthy Flavors Healthy Kids – National Steering Committee Member
- Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition – National Advisory Board
- National Foodservice Management Institute – National Advisory Council
- National Farm to School Network – Sponsor
- International Food Information Council – Sponsor and Board Member
- USDA MyPlate Strategic Partnership – First Foodservice Company Partner
- Healthy Schools Campaign – Sponsor and Partner
- United Fresh Produce – Member and Partner on Moving Salad Bars to Schools
- Office of Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Project advisor
Healthier US School Challenge
In February 2010, the White House launched Let’s Move!, a nationwide campaign to end childhood obesity within the next generation. As part of this campaign, schools across the country are encouraged to participate in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), a program developed by the USDA to recognize school communities that promote good nutrition, nutrition education, and physical activity.
Chartwells not only supports this initiative – we made a commitment at the White House Let’s Move! launch to quadruple the number of Chartwells school districts who meet the HUSSC food and nutrition guidelines. We’ve gone above and beyond this commitment already with many of our schools meeting the HUSSC criteria and and receiving Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards for their level of dining service offerings.
We will to continue to support our schools as new guidelines are released for the Challenge to coincide with the new meal standards.
School Grants & Contests
Chartwells works with school districts to obtain grants that bring nutrition and fitness programs to our schools. Our team of dietitians and chefs also assist students with contest opportunities that can bring additional recognition and funding to the district. Here are just a few examples of the types of grants and contests our school districts have won:
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: We have worked with school district leadership and local community agencies in many of our districts to secure funding from USDA for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a national initiative aimed at exposing students to free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks throughout the school year. In one district, a vegetable cart is available for students free of charge once a week and fresh produce is also available in vending machines.
- Cooking Up Change Contest: In this national cooking contest established by the Healthy Schools Campaign in 2007, students show the world just how delicious and healthy a school lunch can be. The contest challenges students to create a great-tasting lunch that meets nutrition standards on a tight budget, using only ingredients commonly available for school food service. Students must create recipes that include no more than six steps so that they can easily be replicated on a large scale in real school kitchens. In 2011, five teams of students from Chartwells school districts competed - one even won the grand prize! This competition gives students the opportunity to learn about food and nutrition in a fun and interesting way, and also provides Chartwells with unique recipes developed by creative students who love working with food.
- Fuel Up to Play: We collaborated with school administrators and students to obtain a Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant from the Dairy Council to encourage exercise and healthy eating. Program highlights include a one-minute student read nutrition message during morning announcements, morning exercises, monthly cafeteria nutrition promotions, taste-testing events, and building a fitness trail on school grounds.
- Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest: In two of our districts, resident chefs and dietitians joined school teams to develop recipes for entry into the White House contest for healthy school meal recipe creation. One team’s recipe even made it into the “Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook” being published nationwide.
- Whole Grains Challenge: An initiative of Boston-based educational non-profit Oldways and its Whole Grains Council (WGC), this Challenge encourages all dining and foodservice outlets to come up with original, creative, and compelling ways to promote whole grain awareness and enjoyment. One of our districts won grand prize by offering at least one whole grain choice daily, promoting the offerings in unique ways. Intermediate school students enjoyed whole grain samples and voted on their favorites. On field day, students took part in a special whole grains obstacle course.
- Golden Carrot Award: Chartwells’ districts have been recognized by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) annual Golden Carrot Award for doing an exceptional job of improving the healthfulness of school lunches. PCRM looks for programs that encourage kids to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and that offer plenty of vegetarian, low-fat, whole grain, and nondairy options.
Chartwells and our sister company in healthcare, Morrison Management Specialists, have established a nationwide distance-learning dietetic internship which prepares interns to become registered dietitians in schools after securing a Bachelor's Degree in Food and Nutrition. Interns have the opportunity to participate in nutrition education, food allergy management, menu and recipe development, as well as traditional foodservice management functions. While our interns benefit by working directly in school nutrition settings to gain management and on-the-job experience, districts benefit as well; the internship allows more districts to experience working with nutrition professionals.