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Prize-Winning Food Service Workers Serve Veggie School Lunches

From the Golden Gate to the Peach State, school lunches are getting healthier. Cheeseburgers and chicken wings are giving way to fruits, vegetables, and low-fat vegetarian meals. As students prepare to head back to school, PCRM announced the winners of its 2009 Golden Carrot Awards for innovation in school food service.

Stuart Jacobs

The grand prize for private schools goes to Stuart Jacobs of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and public school winners are Ken Yant and Karen Crawford, M.S., R.D., C.S.P., of Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia. Four second-place prizes went to chefs and food service directors in San Diego, Nevada City, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Montgomery County, Md.

“Childhood obesity is a serious health threat, so it’s wonderful to see these food service professionals serving low-fat vegetarian foods that can help students stay trim,” says PCRM nutritionist Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D. “The plant-based foods served daily offer a healthy alternative to the artery-clogging hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and cheese pizzas that dominate most school menus.”

Yant, director of the school nutrition program, and Crawford, nutrition education coordinator, of Gwinnett County Public Schools won the grand prize for the creative food service program they run in Georgia. In addition to the $3,500 the food service program will receive, Mr. Yant and Ms. Crawford will donate their $1,500 to the food service program. Both winners serve healthy vegetarian food daily, and students enjoy hot entrees such as teriyaki veggie burgers and black bean empanadas, as well as fresh fruit and salad bars.

Jacobs, food service director of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, won the grand prize for the creative food service programs he runs in a private school in San Francisco. Mr. Jacobs will receive $1,500; the school will receive $3,500. Mr. Jacobs exclusively serves buffet-style kosher vegetarian foods, as well as fresh fruit and salad bars daily.

This year’s Golden Carrot Awards runners up—who will each receive a $500 second prize and $500 for their food service program—are:

  • Kathleen Lazor, food and nutrition services director of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland;
  • Gary Petill, nutrition services director of San Diego Unified School District;
  • Benjamin Rose, a chef with of The Woolman Semester high school program in Nevada City, Calif.; and
  • Alison Thompson, chef of Colorado Springs School in Colorado.

PCRM established the Golden Carrot Awards in 2004 to recognize food service professionals doing an exceptional job of improving the healthfulness of school lunches. PCRM looks for programs that encourage kids to eat fruits and vegetables and that offer plenty of vegetarian, low-fat, whole grain, and nondairy options. Children raised on a healthy vegetarian diet have a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers compared with those who grow up on a typical American diet.

To learn more about this year’s winners, visit

Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.
Kathryn Strong, M.S., R.D.

PCRM Online, September 2009
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