On days when rolls are on the lunch menu at Big Sky School District, Food Service Manager Kathy Hudson doesn’t hit the snooze button – she’s up at 4:30 a.m. in order to leave her Manhattan home in time to have her fresh, homemade bread ready for lunch.
Hudson’s penchant for providing fresh, healthy food to Big Sky students might get her up before the break of dawn, but it’s a labor of love. Before coming to Big Sky School District she worked for 10 years in Bozeman school cafeterias, a job she said she truly enjoyed.
And it’s a job she takes seriously. Along with dedicating extra time to homemade food, Hudson also puts a special focus on offering whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and plenty of fruits and vegetables to her hungry young patrons.
“I knew that the feel of this community is very healthy, so I wanted to incorporate that into my menu,” Hudson said as she waited for the next round of students to come through the lunch line.
Already offering up meals fit for a healthy lifestyle, Hudson’s lunch menu was a shoe-in for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) program. Recently, the Big Sky School District received three Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge program that recognizes schools that are creating healthy environments by promoting excellence in nutrition and physical activity.
Ophir Elementary School, Ophir Middle School and Lone Peak High School are three of 27 schools in Montana to receive a HUSSC award since 2006 - making them some of the healthiest schools in the nation. The district will receive $1,500 from the USDA to support their school meals program.
“We are so pleased with our new food service program as our students are receiving a very healthy meal plan that complements our Health Education goals set for all students,” said Big Sky School Superintendent Jerry House. “Properly nourished students equates to higher achievement in the classroom and in our activities programs.”
BSSD’s healthy lunches are just one piece of the award-winning status of the school. Health enhancement teacher Tony Beardsley has also been instrumental in creating fun ways to get kids up and moving, such as downhill and Nordic skiing, outdoor adventure activities, a “Fit for Life” elective class, swimming and intramural sports programs. Nutrition Education is also provided to Grades K-10 and utilizes guest speakers and parent involvement.
To qualify for the Bronze awards, BSSD submitted a detailed application documenting adherence to the HealthierUS School Challenge criteria for their lunch menus, nutrition education, opportunities for physical activity and a local school wellness policy. Hudson and House led the HUSSC application process, along with support from the school’s wellness committee and health and physical activity staff, including Beardsley.
Hankering for a taste of Hudson’s healthful lunches? Parents and community members are encouraged to visit the school and enjoy a school lunch.
Call Big Sky School District at (406) 995-4281 to schedule and be added to the lunch count.