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Elementary Students Making Smart Food Choices
There's something new for your kids when it's time for lunch at school this year.

In an effort to offer "something for everyone" and with an eye toward health, the Escalon Unified School District has implemented some sweeping new changes in the elementary school lunch program.

Now, according to Food Services Director Shelli Nicholas, there is a wide variety of choices for students each day, with several entrees offered in addition to the popular 'food bar' that has items featuring fresh fruits and vegetables.

"It's a project that I've thought about for the last six years," Nicholas admitted, noting that she patterned it after a program she visited in the Lincoln Unified School District.

"We're offering choices with the food bar," she explained. "We want children making good choices."

Five different entrees are offered each day and students participating in the school lunch program choose one of the five, then go to the food bar to supplement their meal.

On the menu for Thursday, Aug. 23, for example, the entrees offered were beef teriyaki bites with rice, a spicy chicken sandwich, hamburger on a bun, tuna sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly uncrustable.

A cruise by the food bar showed items including apples, oranges, nacho cheese Doritos - a once a week treat - cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, ranch dip packets, salad with carrot shreds, cheese, raisins and peanuts. Also featured once a week is the 'atomic fruit snacks' treat.

"The kids love it," Nicholas said of offering them the opportunity to pick and choose their own lunch items. "Our counts are reflecting that, it's been phenomenal so far."

Nicholas and her crew also work hard to make the presentation pleasing, noting that is key to students getting invested in the program.