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Mandated or not, Sewickley Academy offers healthy options

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Though private schools do not have to follow the same nutrition standards as public schools, Sewickley Academy is working to ensure students receive healthy options when they go through the lunch line.

Food Service Director Lucas Nelson of Metz School Services — Sewickley Academy's food service provider — said students are offered nutritious options in the lower/middle school lunch room and senior school cafeteria each day.

“It's just not as structured,” he said.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture set nutrition standards for public schools, which resulted in cafeterias across the nation adding more fruits and vegetables and reducing calories and sodium in their menu offerings.

Quaker Valley Food Services Director Jennifer Reiser earlier this month said since last year's mandate, she tweaked this year's menu to add meals that are more appealing to students while keeping them nutritious.

“We are trying to mimic what children eat when they go to restaurants and make (the foods) healthy to meet the school guidelines,” said Reiser, a registered dietitian.

Without the same set of guidelines, Sewickley Academy leaders have more flexibility with their daily menus, but Nelson said administrators remain mindful of helping students to eat healthy.

In both of the Edgeworth campus' cafeterias, a standard lunch — which costs $5 — includes items from the basic food groups. Students have a choice of two main proteins each day, as well as a starch, vegetables, dairy and bread.

Lower and middle school students have other food choices, which are priced a la carte, and include a full deli and salad bar with two types of greens and vegetables.

“It's really just any type of fresh vegetable that we can source from local purveyors,” Nelson said.

Aside from the standard lunch, deli sandwiches and salad bar, senior school students have several other options, also priced a la carte.

The cafeteria is set up in stations and students can choose from a Bravo! station, which offers a weekly rotating selection of specialty burgers and sandwiches from around the world; Villa Toscana, which serves fresh pizzas and pastas; and J. Clarke's Grille, which features typical grill fare, such as hot dogs, burgers and chicken sandwiches.

Nelson said the school offers a number of vegetarian options, as well as freshly made soups each day.

“[Students] have a lot of things to choose from,” he said.

Sewickley Academy is focused on teaching its students to make healthy eating decisions both in and out of school, he said.

Though they don't use its produce in their school lunches, the school's Secret Garden has been a great tool for teaching students about food choices and preparation, Nelson said.

The garden — located across Hazel Lane from the school — contains plants, flowers and vegetables, and is maintained by volunteers and students.

Nelson said he hopes to add an after-school program during which students would be able to make dishes from the crops they have grown.

“Anytime we can utilize the garden, we do,” Nelson said.

Reporter Karen Zapf contributed to this report. Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405 or

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