Chef Keith

Chef Keith Nelson, Culinary Chef for Lunchtime Solutions prepares an entree for studetns at his alma mater, Sioux Valley High School in Volga, SD

By Brian Gebhart – Brookings Register

School lunches haven’t always had the best reputation, but the students at Sioux Valley High School weren’t complaining about the food during Wednesday’s noon hour.

On the menu wasn’t a slab of “mystery meat” or extra-sloppy Sloppy Joes. Instead, an entrĂ©e of chicken lo mein was made available to students, as Chef Keith Nelson from Lunchtime Solutions Inc. (LSI) prepared the students a freshly cooked meal right in front of them.

Nelson was happy to come to Volga, since he graduated from SVHS in 1980. He realized his passion for the culinary arts at a young age and after graduating from high school, he eventually attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. He graduated in 1989.

Over the past five years, Nelson has been working with LSI and says he enjoys his job.

“It’s not always preparing meals for high school students,” Nelson said. “I help develop and test recipes, and I also present to Family and Consumer Science classes.”

The Sioux Valley School District has part- nered with Lunchtime Solutions Inc.’s lunch service program since 2004, and things are going well.

“We enjoy the partnership,” Vice President and Officer of Marketing and Business Development Chris Goeb said. “The people here really care about the kids, their food and want to educate them on healthy eating habits.”

Students were given the option to have the items on the normal lunch menu over the chef-prepared meal, but nearly every student stepped in Nelson’s line.

The students watched Nelson as he mixed fresh green onions, celery, cabbage and chicken together before being served over linguine pasta. An unlimited fruit and veggie bar was also available to the students , providing a healthier option for students to fill up their stomachs, rather than fried or breaded foods.

LSI’s mission is to give students the opportunity to try foods that they haven’t tried before. They expose them to flavors and tastes that are not normally part of school food services and provide ways for students to make more healthy choices.

“Each month we do a special lunch at one of our schools,” Goeb said. “We try to give them a reason to be excited for lunch.” Based out of North Sioux City, LSI reaches across six different states: Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. With more than 40 schools partnered with LSI, the Sioux Valley School District isn’t the only district in the area, as the Flandreau and Dell Rapids school districts also use the service.

LSI provides more nutrition education programs to their schools than just school lunch menus and chef-prepared meals, including SchoolYard Garden and Farmers Market Selections Program. To learn more about the LSI service and programs, visit www.lunchtimesolutions.com.