School Lunch

Oliver Morrison / PublicSource

It’s 7 a.m. and cafeteria worker Leann Andrews is pushing a cart through the bustling hallways of North Hills Middle School. In the cart sit packages of banana, blueberry, and chocolate muffin next to cereal bars and breakfast sandwiches.

Ryan Loew / PublicSource

After school, 16-year-old Maleeke Reid works at a community gardening program in Homewood. He gets paid $5 per day for tending the vegetable gardens and attending classes, where he and his friends sometimes joke about being fed “vegan food.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Meals in schools changed about five years ago when the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued standards that said schools had to reduce sodium, saturated fat, and trans fats from meals in order to be reimbursed through the National School Lunch program.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Tazeen Chowdhury gets schoolchildren to eat avocados and edamame.

That bit of miracle-working earned her an invitation to testify this week before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She joined this week to enlighten lawmakers about the tricks she uses to get students in the Mt. Lebanon School District to eat better and healthier both on and off campus.

Chowdhury said students gobble up newer food choices like avocado, kiwi and edamame.