April 2024 Nutrition Newsletter

April 01st, 2024



Flowers in sunshine - April Nutrition Newsletter


In this issue:
• We love local food!
• Get ready for School Lunch Hero Day – May 3rd
• Farm 2 School Spotlight: Stehly Farms

• Staff Spotlight: Stephanie Ross
• Harvest Of The Month: Berries
• Menu Spotlight: Ours Vs. Theirs
• Job & career opportunities


We Love Local Food!

Fresh produce and statistics about how many pounds of local food have been sourced


One of the greatest joys of serving our food is being able to share food grown in our own backyard with our students. Not only does purchasing local foods ensure that it’s as fresh as can be (with more nutrients as well), but we also support our local agriculture economy, also known as family farms.


So far this school year we’ve purchased over five tons of produce from farmers within a 65-mile radius of our central kitchen. From salad bars to Harvest of the Month items, these delicious, nutrient-packed foods are delivered from the farm to the plate within days of being harvested.


In addition to these farms, we work with many more within a few hundred miles of us, also allowing for a shorter time between harvest and showing up on our plates.


The benefits also include less fuel being used to transport the foods, which results in less pollution and more nutrition. Keep an eye out on your school’s salad bars and cafeteria lines for the freshest, tastiest fruits & veggies around!


Be sure to check your school’s menu for the full selection of items and your daily favorites.

*** Menus are subject to change based on ingredient availability and staffing needs.



School Lunch Hero Day is Coming Up:
Be Prepared to Celebrate Your Heroes!


Starting in 2013, the first Friday of May has been designated as School Lunch Hero Day. The day was established as a collaboration between the School Nutrition Association and New York Times bestselling author Jarrett J. Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady graphic book series.


We encourage our students and staff to honor, encourage, and celebrate the amazing people who prepare and serve more than 100,000 meals every week. Our friends at the School Nutrition Association have created several resources to help celebrate, with fun activities to honor our School Lunch Heroes:


• Download & design a card with a thank-you note English | Español

• Download these coloring pages

• Finish these comic pages

• Draw a picture for your lunch hero

• Post to social media and use the hashtag #SchoolLunchHeroDay


Lunch Hero Book Series coversA full set of the Lunch Lady book series can be found in each elementary school library in Vista Unified, thanks to a grant received by WaveCrest Cafe that funded the purchase of the books. Mr. Krosoczka, in fact, visited Vista Unified in January 2015 as part of the district’s professional development day.


We can’t say enough about our team – people who care deeply about the job they do and the children they serve. We can say thank you over and over again to this incredible group of heroes, and we hope you’ll join us!



Menu Spotlight: Ours Vs. Theirs


Chicken fried rice nutrition comparison


This month we thought we’d mix things up and present some information that shows just why we are so excited about the meals we serve each day. There are a lot of myths about school food that we’ve been trying to dispel for years. Part of the process is to showcase just what is in our meals and how it differs from the options that are so often presented to our students.


And while we love to broaden kids’ tastes with programs like Harvest of the Month and other taste tests that introduce new flavors, we also know that everyone has different taste buds, and a mix of novel and familiar helps us engage our students. 


So here are a few examples of how our food stacks up against some of the things that are marketed to our kids.


Chicken fried rice nutrition comparisonChicken Fried Rice Bowl: Our entree stacks up well against a similar item at Panda Express, with 4x the fiber, nearly 3x less fat, and 30% less sodium. And ours comes with fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies, many from farms within 65 miles of our central kitchen.





Chile verde carnitas burrito nutrition comparisonChile Verde Carnitas Burrito: Compared to a similar burrito at Chipotle, ours delivers 40% less fat, about half the carbs, and 20% less sodium. Students can also enjoy our homemade salsa and a fantastic selection of fruits & veggies to build their own perfect plate.





WaveCrest Pizza nutrition comparisonWaveCrest Pepperoni Pizza: Not only is our pizza made fresh each day with a white, whole wheat crust that has more nutrients than others, but it has 400% more fiber, 45% less sodium, and 20% less fat than Little Caesar’s. 






All of these items are examples of how we can serve familiar items that are packed with the nutrients our students need and have far less of the things that can slow them down. Check your school’s menu to see what we’re serving today and every day.




Meet Our Team: Stephanie Ross


Stephanie Ross of T.H.E. Leadership Academy 

Speaking of School Lunch Heroes, Stephanie Ross of T.H.E. Leadership Academy is one. Stephanie has been part of our WaveCrest Cafe team before it was called WaveCrest Cafe. She started with our department 23 years ago and has been the Lead at T.H.E. Leadership Academy for 11 years.


And while we generally do a short Q&A in this section, Stephanie was recently given a profile by the district showcasing the connections that our team makes with students. Here’s a sneak peek at that; you can link to the full story and a video.


Stephanie Ross has been the Cafeteria Lead at T.H.E. Leadership Academy for the past 11 years and worked with Vista Unified’s CNS department for 23 years. She is very aware of the importance of her role and influence in a special place outside the classroom.


“I do feel like I’m teaching the children because I’m teaching them to be kind, courteous, and considerate,” she explains. 


Ross’s thoughtfulness and ethos are clearly working. One student, Mia, a second-grader, says, “Miss Stephanie is really nice and she’s kind. She helps us when we need something. And she helps us when we’re sad, mad, or emotional and when something’s not fair and we’re crying. She comes and hugs us and I’m really happy when she does that. She’s a very, very nice lunch lady.”


Stephanie Ross of T.H.E. Leadership AcademySetting A Kind Tone Each Day
One important element of Ross’s role that many parents may not realize or appreciate starts as soon as students arrive at school. “Mornings are the best time to check in with the children,” she explains. “They get here and sometimes they’re sad, or they just need something to eat, or just tell someone what happened – like if their sister wasn’t nice to them that morning or wouldn’t come with them to breakfast. I like those interactions, and to be a part of their day and help them have a good one.”


Remembering back to when she was a mom of young children, Ross emphasizes the importance of morning time in a child’s life. “My mother-in-law taught me that, because when I was a young mom there were mornings when I was just grouchy. She was the sweetest woman and I try to emulate her.”


Read the entire story here



Farm 2 School Spotlight:
Stehly Farms Organics, Valley Center, CA


Strawberries from Stehly Farms Organics


It’s always great to work with local farmers, especially those as close as Stehly Farms Organics in nearby Valley Center. We’ve done a full story on the farm and brothers Noel and Jerome Stehly and their family’s farming history; you can see that story here.


Our April Harvest of the Month berries will be coming from Stehly Farms, offering our students the chance to sample and learn about the freshest foods around. Thank you to everyone at Stehly Farms Organics for being a great partner in nutrition and learning.



Harvest of the Month: Berries


Mixed berries Harvest of the Month


Berries are among the most popular fruits in the world, which is a great thing for the health of berry-lovers, as they are a fantastic source of vitamin C, fiber, and manganese, while also being rich in phytochemicals. Phytochemicals function as antioxidants, promote immunity, increase communication with cells in the body, and help repair damage to DNA. 


Here are some other quick facts about different berries:


• Strawberries, raspberries & blackberries are part of the rose family. These plants are perennials, meaning they will continue to grow and bear fruit year after year. 


• Blueberries are part of the heath family of plants, which includes azaleas, rhododendrons, and cranberries. Blueberries are also perennials and their bushes can grow to be up to 12 feet tall! And while it can take a blueberry bush two to three years to produce fruit regularly, it can continue producing berries for up to 20 years.


Strawberries in an ice cream coneStrawberries
• One half cup of strawberries is an excellent source of vitamin C – providing 81% of the recommended Daily Value of vitamin C. 

• Vitamin C helps your body heal cuts and wounds. It also helps your body fight infections and sickness. 

• We cannot make vitamin C in our bodies so we need to eat foods rich in vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables.



California-Grown Berries
• California leads the nation in the production of fresh raspberries.

• California is the largest producer of domestically grown strawberries, supplying almost 90% of the strawberries grown in the United States.

• On average, more than 30,000 acres produce over one billion pounds of fresh and frozen strawberries. 

• If all the strawberries produced in California this year were laid berry to berry, they would wrap around the world 15 times – enough to provide every household in the United States with 12 one-pint baskets.


In Northern California:
• Raspberries are harvested during May and September/October.
• Blackberries are harvested from late July through September.
• Blueberries are harvested in May through early August.


In Southern California:
• Raspberries and blackberries are harvested from August through October.
• Blueberries are harvested from mid-March through October. 


Family-Newsletter-Berries_EngHarvest of the Month Resources

Learn more about Berries with your class during a Harvest of the Month activity. You can download our Harvest of the Month resources for families here


Harvest of the Month is available for any classroom that wants to participate. If your child’s teacher wants to sign up for the program, it’s easy. For more information about the program, classroom tasting parties, and more, email Vanessa Luna.




School nutrition is an extremely rewarding job. You can be part of the nation’s largest restaurant group, serving tasty and nutritious meals to our children each and every day. What’s more, you’ll meet amazing people who are skilled, dedicated, and passionate about their roles.


Our team has the unique opportunity to interact with almost every student, every day. Those interactions make a big difference in our kids’ lives and lead to long-lasting and meaningful friendships.


See all of our available positions here: https://wavecrestcafe.com/employment-opportunities/




No cost for student meals at WaveCrest Cafe in the 2023-24 school year


California is one of seven states across the country that has made school meals available at no cost to all students! In addition to providing fresh, healthy, delicious foods to our students, there is no paperwork required.

*** With meals being offered at no charge, we are anticipating more students will be dining with us. This may affect the availability of some entrees as we learn and adapt to greater numbers and meeting the demand.




Request A Master Gardener For Your School
The San Diego County Master Gardener Association provides Master Gardeners to help schools set up and maintain gardens. Master Gardeners act as consultants, mentoring parents and teachers who request help with beginning or improving their school gardens. Request a garden consultant here.



Educational Garden Design Grant – Rolling Dates
The California Native Garden Foundation offers grants for school gardens that feature CA native plants. Types of support include garden design services, in-kind donations of plants and landscape materials, volunteer assistance, and direct financial assistance. Click here to learn more and to apply.



Solana Center Workshops – Rolling Dates
The Solana Center hosts a variety of workshops and lessons across San Diego County, with topics including composting, raising backyard chickens, green living, and water-wise gardening. Check out their events calendar here.



Bonnie’s Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program – Rolling Dates
Bonnie’s provides free mega-cabbage plants to 3rd-grade teachers across the US who want to participate. Students grow the cabbages and submit pictures and measurements of their harvest to be considered for a $1,000 scholarship. Find out how to participate here.



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(C) 2024 WaveCrest Cafe / Vista Unified School District
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Esta institución es un proveedor de igualdad de oportunidades.