Saint Louis University

Steve Jenkins, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Saint Louis University
Chef Steve Jenkins

St. Louis elementary and middle school students are going to be pleasantly surprised this spring, when they are greeted back to school with delicious, fresh, local snacks.

The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics has added two new schools to the Farm to School Lunch Program, New City School and Marian Middle School. After school snacks will be provided for the after-care program at New City School, a co-educational elementary school in St. Louis. Starting January 6, breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided to Marian Middle School.

The school lunch program is an effort by the Department’s Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program to provide nutritious meals to underprivileged students who would typically not be provided with the nourishing foods the school lunch program provides.

"Marian is an excellent school that seeks to intervene in the lives of at risk girls while they are in middle school so there is time to put them on track to achieve scholastically and hopefully attend higher education,” said Chef Steve Jenkins, Director of the Food Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. “The school required parental involvement, has an extended school day and is serving a vulnerable population. Over 92 percent of the children at Marian qualify for free or reduced meals so we are taking on this school to get healthy, local foods to kids who may not have access to good food in the rest of their lives."

Whitney Linsenmeyer, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics Saint Louis University
Chef Whitney Linsenmeyer

The meals are made by Saint Louis University student workers under the direction of Chef Whitney Linsenmeyer, MS, RD, LD, on a three week rotation. Putting the students in charge of the meals provides an excellent learning opportunity for the Nutrition and Dietetics students to gain experience working within the National School Lunch Program guidelines while still an undergraduate. Linsenmeyer would know, she’s a two-time graduate of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, earning both her baccalaureate and master’s degree through the Department.

“One of my hopes is that by working with the school lunch program, out undergraduate students will take an interest in school food for their future careers,” Linsenmeyer said. “When they do become dietitians and enter the workforce, they should have extremely high standards based on what they have been exposed to in our program.”

Additionally, the students are exposed to a truly innovative farm to school program that utilizes local products processed in SLU's Food Innovation Center located in the Salus Center to provide locally grown fruits and vegetables throughout the year. The goal is to have 70% of the Farm to School Lunch Program’s products be locally grown.

To test one of the snacks that will be provided, try the recipe below:

Cucumber Slices with Yogurt Ranch Dip
Serves four
1 large cucumber
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp salt

Rinse cucumber under cool running water. Slice into ¼” rounds. To make the yogurt ranch dip, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley and salt. Dip, spread, dunk – enjoy!