(New York, NY) — In an effort to highlight the continuous strides that the NYC Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood is making towards promoting healthy food choices to New York City students and to encourage students and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking, daytime host and best-selling author Rachael Ray, the Office of SchoolFood and the Yum-o! organization, Rachael Ray’s nonprofit organization, have partnered to create an exciting, delicious and nutritious lunch menu to be served in more than 1,600 New York City public schools, across all five boroughs. On October 26, 2009, Ray was joined at the announcement of the partnership at PS89/IS289 in Manhattan by Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, Chief Executive for SchoolFood Eric Goldstein, Chef Jorge Collazo and Principals Veronica Najjar of PS 89 and Ellen Foote of IS 289.
The first meal developed by Ray consists of a sizzling soft taco topped with southwest-style roasted chicken, sweet roasted corn, vegetarian “veg-head” beans, steamed broccoli and a southwest-style Yum-o! ranch sauce. It was debuted today and will be served for lunch on Thursday to more than 600,000 public school students.
The recipes included in the meal – NYC Sizzling Soft Taco with Southwest Roasted Chicken and Corn Relish, Yum-o! Ranch Sauce and Vegetarian "Veg-Head" Beans – are available on the Yum-o! website.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood to help get kids excited about the food they eat while embracing a healthier lifestyle," said Ray. "Growing up, my family had a very positive relationship with food and cooking and that relationship helped shape my lifestyle and businesses. I hope that through this partnership I can pass on my experiences with food and that they inspire these students to make better choices about the food they eat."
"Studies have shown that eating a nutritious breakfast and lunch helps students be productive in school, stay alert and perform to the best of their abilities," Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott said. "That is why we have made significant changes in many of our school lunches, such as eliminating trans fats and baking our potatoes instead of serving french fries. We also have expanded our Breakfast in the Classroom program to give students healthier options."
"We can’t afford to let our children grow up in a culture of obesity. We know that when children are overweight and not receiving nutritious foods, their academic performance suffers," said Senator Gillibrand. "If our children are going to have the opportunity to reach their potential, they need access to healthy foods and a healthy start. With limited resources, New York City has taken a leadership role and done an excellent job providing school children with more nutritious food. Working hand-in-hand with leaders in the private sector, like Rachael Ray, and local leaders, such as Speaker Quinn, I will lead the fight in Congress to make sure all schools get the resources they need to provide our children with a healthier future."
"We’re here today with a common goal – to improve nutrition for all of New York’s children," City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said. "The sad fact is that nearly half of all elementary school students in New York City are overweight or obese. We’ve been working hard for years to combat both obesity and hunger; today we take action in getting hundreds of thousands of school kids eating right. We know kids are looking forward to these lunches and their parents are looking forward to their healthful benefits."
"Since 2004, we have made our meals healthier and tastier by providing more nutritious ingredients, such as fresh fruits, low fat milk, whole wheat bread and whole grain pasta," said Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm. "Thanks to Rachael Ray, we have a new menu item that fits our nutritional guidelines and is a great choice for our students."
"SchoolFood is excited to partner with Rachael Ray to promote healthy food choices and higher nutritional standards for our public school students," Eric Goldstein, chief executive for SchoolFood, said. "I want to thank Rachael for partnering with SchoolFood and to make a difference for the children of New York City."
"Part of the work we do through Yum-o! is making sure kids and their families are excited about the food they eat, and by working with SchoolFood we are able to move closer to realizing that goal," said Andrew Kaplan, Director of the Yum-o! organization. "NYC’s Office of SchoolFood is a terrific hometown partner for Rachael and we look forward to working with them on creating many more events like this throughout the school year and beyond."
"Rachael Ray's new menu isn't just about food that tastes better, it's about food that is better – for fitter kids, more productive classrooms and healthier lifestyles. Improving our school menus is one step toward building a generation of healthier, better educated New Yorkers – and that's a treat we can all enjoy," said State Senator Daniel Squadron.
The Office of SchoolFood’s breakfast and lunch meals meet the USDA nutritional requirements. Some of the nutritional standards implemented by SchoolFood include:
- No artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, palm oil, coconut oil, BHA, BHT and MSG
- Serving only 1% low-fat and skim milk
- Serving only whole wheat bread and rolls
- Total fat not to exceed 30% of total calories
- Saturated fat not to exceed 10% of total calories
- Eliminating trans fat
- Total sodium not to exceed 660 mg for breakfast and 770mg for lunch
- Increased the daily offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Healthy snacks for after school and á la carte programs
New York City’s Department of Education, Office of SchoolFood offers today’s students healthier choices. It serves meals to more than 1,600 public schools, serving more than 800,000 meals daily. SchoolFood is the largest K-12 food service operation in the country and the second largest institutional purchaser of food after the armed forces. Breakfast and lunch service continues beyond the scheduled instructional school year. Free breakfast and lunch is available during the summer to children 18 years of age and under. The summer meals program is available at hundreds of public schools, community pools, city parks, NYC Housing Authority complexes and libraries.
About the Yum-o! Organization
Yum-o!® is Rachael Ray’s nonprofit organization that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. By providing the tools to create easy, affordable and delicious meals, Yum-o! is changing the way America eats. Yum-o!’s three work areas include educating kids and their families about cooking, feeding hungry American kids and funding cooking education and scholarships. For more information about the Yum-o! organization, please visit www.yum-o.org.
About Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray is best known as the host of the hit syndicated Emmy Award winning daytime television show, Rachael Ray, produced by CBS Television Distribution in association with Harpo Productions, Scripps Networks and Watch Entertainment. Rachael’s warmth, energy and boundless curiosity also reaches scores of fans through her popular Food Network shows, bestselling cookbooks published by Clarkson Potter, her own line of Rachael Ray cookware created by Meyer, knives by Furitechnics, signature food ingredients by Colavita and lifestyle magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. In 2007, Rachael launched the Yum-o! organization, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. For more information, visit www.rachaelray.com.