Elementary schools treated to healthy barbecue fare

Laguna Beach elementary schools are treated to a healthy barbecue lunch — complete with an organic salad bar — twice a month.

El Morro and Top of the World elementary schools' students and staff have the chance to dine on grass-fed beef hamburgers or a protein veggie burger on a whole-grain bun, according to a district release.

"The [barbecues] are a big hit with both students and staff; the twice monthly [barbecues] add a bit of fun to the school day," district Nutrition Services Director Debra Appel said in a prepared statement. "Students get excited when they smell the burgers sizzling on the grill. It's like Fourth of July without the fireworks. The BBQ brings students and staff together for a healthy and delicious lunch; everyone gets involved from the students to the principal, custodians and especially the staff."

The meal comes with fresh fruit, milk and a trip to the schools' salad bars, which feature seasonal, sustainably grown, organic options.

The hamburgers served are antibiotic- and hormone-free. The veggie burgers are made from vegetables, mozzarella, sunflower seeds and egg. It meets the protein requirement for a meat alternative lunch.

"Two times a month, I refer to our Top of the World Cafeteria as, 'Lunch At The Top Cafe,'" teacher Linda Barker said in a prepared statement. "Top of the World grilled hamburgers are the best of the best... Teachers mark the day on their calendars so they can buy one of the best burgers in Orange County and dine together with their colleagues in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere (known as the staff lunch room)."

— Britney Barnes

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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