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MFISD summer meals get Turnip the Beet award

Marble Falls ISD summer meal program

Students in the summer feeding program at Marble Falls Independent School District enjoyed trays of protein, fruits, and vegetables all summer long in 2022. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

The Marble Falls school district’s 2022 summer meal program got a rave review from the federal government. The Child Nutrition Department received the Turnip the Beet award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for dishing out hundreds of healthy, nutritious meals to students over the break.

Marble Falls Independent School District was one of 98 districts across the nation and 26 in the state to receive the award, which the USDA started in 2019.

MFISD Director of Child Nutrition Maria Manzo said she and her crew were simply following their mission of serving healthy and engaging meals to students to spur success.

“We provide nutritious meals for their brains and body to be prepared for a day’s learning,” she said.

Award winners were divided into three categories: gold, silver, and bronze. MFISD and 15 other districts won silver by serving locally produced foods with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Child Nutrition Department also offered low-fat or fat-free dairy products and culturally appropriate meals. 

“A variety of meals were served for different cultures, including Mexican, Italian, and vegetarian meals,” Manzo said.

MFISD menus from the 2022 summer included protein items such as chicken burgers, pepperoni pizza, steak fingers, and cheeseburgers along with fruits and vegetables like broccoli, applesauce, baby carrots, and peaches. The district also offered breakfast menus with pancakes, donuts, and breakfast pizza.

Manzo said the USDA recognition also took into account her staff’s encouragement to students to try new foods and voice their opinions about the menu options.

“We had a focus group for the summer school students to gather surveys on likes and dislikes on the weekly menu,” she said. “We plan to continue to offer taste testing with new products so that students can provide feedback on the products being sampled.”

The Child Nutrition Department will keep innovating and experimenting in campus cafeterias.

“We will continue to menu fresh fruits and vegetables and create menus that are appealing, made fresh, and kid-friendly,” Manzo said.