Sacred Hearts School in Lahaina introduced a new "healthy lunch program" Dec. 3.
Working with Juan Gomez, chef and owner at Penne Pasta Cafe, the school created a menu intended to be nutritious and kid-friendly. The program replaces traditional lunches prepared by Aunty Sue Kidnay for the last 25 years; Kidnay retired Wednesday.
Sacred Hearts' decision to close the cafeteria came in May. The school found that the $3 charged for its traditional lunch covered only a fraction of cafeteria expenses. The new lunch program offers nutritionally balanced $5 lunches, prepared by Penne Pasta Cafe in Lahaina. The new program will pay for itself, according to a press release, while allowing Sacred Hearts School to continue offering subsidized and free lunch to students who qualify for federal school lunch assistance.
In addition, Penne Pasta Cafe has offered to subsidize teacher lunches at a cost to the parish of only $2 per lunch.
"Our teachers are the soul of our school," said Gomez. "I am happy to do what I can to support them."
The menu was created based on student and parent surveys conducted over the summer. Predictably, kids prefer pizza to all other hot lunch selections. However, a big surprise was their No. 1 choice for "snacks" - fresh fruit.
Volunteer parent Linda Jenkins, together with a team of parents and school board members, along with school secretary Jan Pasamonte, took on the work of creating an affordable and healthy menu after observing students throwing away lunches that didn't appeal to them. Jenkins began her research with a simple idea: Lunch is nutritious only if it is eaten.
Sacred Hearts also has launched a "healthy snack time." Fresh fruit is sold for 50 to 75 cents and is served by parent volunteers.