From Jim Hook
N. Palos Dist. 117
Bernice Rolniak knows a thing or two about nutrition.
Rolniak is not only the food service manager with Arbor Management, which prepares and serves more than 1,300 hot lunches each day to students at all five of the schools in North Palos School District 117, she’s transformed her own life by eating healthier. Rolniak lost 60 pounds two years ago, and hasn’t yet found it.
“I feel great,” she said.
Now, she and her staff are committed to working on getting students at Conrady Junior High School and the district’s other four schools — Sorrick, Dorn, Oak Ridge and Glen Oaks — to do the same. Rolniak is using March, National Nutrition Month, to convince students of the merits of portion control and healthy eating. A third, equally important component is exercise.
Students are given menu choices that feature more fruits and vegetables, hoping they will start eating healthier at school and, ultimately, at home. Rolniak said students have shown modest interest in cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and even broccoli.
“And they do enjoy the salads,” Rolniak said.
Cauliflower, however, has been a whole different story.
Posters adorn the south wall of Conrady’s cafeteria, pointing out to students such things as which snacks are the healthiest; how to figure out portion sizes and the importance of exercise in a healthy lifestyle. For example, 12 carrots equal 40 calories, which takes nine minutes of walking to burn off. Eleven potato chips equal 160 calories, which requires 35 minutes of walking to burn off. And one doughnut equals about 270 calories, which will take one hour of walking to burn off.
Rolniak said that all food items follow strict national nutrition guidelines.
Next month, National Bean Month, will feature a menu that includes garbanzo and other beans as part of the main dish. Garbanzo beans are ground to make hummus, which will be available next month to students.
“We’re trying to get them to eat healthier,” she said. “It’s going to take time.”