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School Lunch Workers Plan Months Ahead Of Time

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – While lunch is usually a break for students, the WCCO Morning Show team found out just how much work it is for the ladies who serve it up.

At Minnetonka High School, they prepare their menus two months ahead of time.

With smaller budgets and more students, the job has more challenges than just cooking. Kitchen manager Deb Waldenmaier must follow guidelines to make sure the kids eat healthy.

They color code their lunch menu so kids can pick out fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy.

With that comes with a lot of work. Each day, the lunch ladies need to get seven cases of apples and bananas ready to eat. That means early hours and some skills with math.

The food chart isn’t the only thing that needs to be balanced, so does their budget.

“We take advantage of subsidies and government programs, we take advantage of labor in the most responsible way,” said Waldenmaier. “We take advantage of foods in season and just make the best with what you can.”

In other words, the lunch staff gets resourceful. Leftover fruit sometimes gets frozen so it can be used in other baked goods.

If students don’t like something, they’re encouraged to speak up about their reasons for disliking it. Waldenmaier said they want to know about textures, flavors and so on, so they can always improve a dish while still providing something healthy.

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