Four Iowa school cafeterias are getting national recognition from the U.S.D.A. for serving well-balanced meals to their students. The Healthier U-S School Challenge Award will be given to schools in Dubuque, Jewell, Johnston and Perry. Candy Anderson, food service director for the South Hamilton School District in Jewell, says in her line of work, this is like winning an Oscar.

“There was some strict nutritional and physical education requirements that we had to meet and once we had those in place, there was lengthy documentation,” Anderson says. “South Hamilton is being recognized with the Silver Award and right now there are only eight schools in the state Iowa that have achieved that and 63 in the nation.” She says the requirements for the nutrutional components of the meals were extremely strict.

“We had to make sure that we met the guidelines as far as sodium, fat and calories and had the right ingredients,” Anderson says. “A lot of beans, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains were included in those menus.” An awards ceremony is planned for Monday at South Hamilton Elementary School that will feature the entire student body and a U.S.D.A. official from Washington D.C.

The other winning schools are: Audubon Elementary School in the Dubuque Community School District, Horizon Elementary in the Johnston Community School District, and Perry Elementary in the Perry Community School District. Learn more at:

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City