Weatherford Democrat

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September 5, 2012

Restaurant offers new take on school lunches

WEATHERFORD — For Jerrett Joslin, it all began with a concern for his daughter’s nutritional health.

The head chef and co-owner of The Wild Mushroom began small, replacing lunches at his daughter’s school, the Schoolhouse, with freshly prepared meals every day.

“Their lunch program ended last year, and we saw it as an opportunity to make a food change to the way they were eating at their school,” he said. “Our ambition was to replace processed and junk foods.

“Our kids need to be fed better food and a lot of us were thinking we needed to make changes.”

The Schoolhouse, along with Weatherford Christian School and Couts Christian Academy, have all jumped on board with the Wild Mushroom to replace fast food and delivery food with the in-house prepared meals.

“We still love our little lunch ladies, but they’ve been doing the same thing every year,” Joslin said. “The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] requires you to have the food pyramid items and we try to meet or exceed that on a daily basis. We’re a little restricted on how we can do it, but we get help from the teachers and the parents.”

Joslin said the restaurant is in the process of adding other schools as well.

Five mornings a week, Joslin and his staff begin the process of preparing close to 100 lunches a day, with menu items ranging from rice and burritos with a fruit cup to grilled chicken strips and broccoli, and of course, pizza.

Those involved also track the trends of each class and school to prepare what is appropriate.

“We try to get as much food prepped as we can when we have the opportunity during normal services, so when we come in, we’re not up against a time constraint,” Joslin said. “It allows us to get the food ready and some of the freshest food, like salads, are made that same day.”

Parents, students and staff fill out lunch orders online and submit their payments, which amount to $4 per student and $7 per adult.

“The biggest problem is that eating healthy can get a little expensive, but we try to keep the cost down by [preparing] in house and cooking from scratch as much as we can,” Joslin said. “We also try to get as many local ingredients as we can.”

The venture has been successful and welcomed by all, with Joslin scheduled to meet with two more headmasters about participation with the program.

“We are constantly striving to improve our operations as a whole at Weatherford Christian School and being able to give our students a much healthier lunch menu for the same affordable price accomplished just that,” Leslie Chalmers, director of development at WCS, said. “The type of food that is now being provided gives our students the nutrition their bodies need to function properly.”

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