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Cedar Falls School Planning Extreme Menu Makeover

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CEDAR FALLS- Students at the University of Northern Iowa's Price Lab School will find something new cooking in the school cafeteria this fall.

It's out with the typical "mystery" meat and processed institutional food items--and in with home-style, locally grown meals.

Until June 1st, the lab school used a traditional approach to providing lunch and breakfast for the 400 students. That meant relying food service entrees with lots of fat, salt and sugar.

But Rob Stanley is the new food service manager who also goes by the title "food dude." And the menus he's planning in the N-U High kitchen in Cedar Falls is not the typical school offering.

Stanley, who also owns a natural foods grocery store in Cedar Falls, was hired to revamp the entire school lunch menu by switching to locally produced meat, vegetables and dairy products. He also plans to use organic produce and meat wherever possible.

Stanley said "we're going back to the way it used to be done a long time ago before it became so institutionalized--doing everything from scratch and purchasing as much locally as we can."

Classes at the UNI lab school may not start for weeks, but on Thursday Stanley decided to test some of his ideas. He invited the school staff and some kids to lunch to test a menu he plans for sometime in September.

The testers got to try barbecue sandwiches, made with free-range chicken, as well as zucchini fritters and a homemade apple crisp. The vegetable entree came from a nearby farm as did the chicken.

Serving healthier meals routinely will take more time and money...but the school's committed to doing a healthier option day in and day out.

The Price Lab School received several national grants to test the program and document whether other schools could try to include more made from scratch cooking with healthier ingredients. Gardens planted by the staff and students will also provide fresh vegetables for the menus.

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