In order to create a successful school lunch menu, start with a hefty list of federal regulations, sprinkle in state policies and local laws and, finally, add student preference to taste. Mix well and spread across 32 elementary, 10 intermediate and five high schools.

That’s the name of the game for Klein ISD Nutrition and Food Services. Director Doug Massey said that the mission of the department is simple.

“Our mission is simply to feed kids,” he said. “We know, through countless studies, that kids are better, more attentive learners, with less discipline issues when they aren’t hungry. We accomplish this, in accordance with all regulations put in place, and beyond.”

Massey believes that one benefit of the district’s department is how the meals are prepared.

“Every kitchen is a production-style kitchen, meaning everything is prepared on-site for every school,” he said. “Not all school districts do that, but we are so fortunate to be able to. It allows us to be consistent.”

With the help of student taste testers and a full-time dietician and menu planner, the department is able to provide creative meals district-wide that meet meal-specific nutrient standards.

“Most importantly, we want families to know that the food we are serving is healthy,” he said. “Take our pizza for example, we use a whole wheat crust, low fat cheese and turkey pepperoni. It’s different from a retail pizza. ”

Recently, the district was awarded the HealthierUS School Challenge Award for meeting and exceeding all regulations for nutrition and exercise education. The award is based on a variety of factors including menu promotion and information, quality ingredients, lunchroom rapport and cleanliness.

“We do whatever it takes to drive up participation in school meal programs, while supporting a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “Year-round, we train and improve. We are very proud of our department and the HUSSC Award.”

The department is currently planning a nutrient-rich menu for the 2019-2020 school year.