Delicious meals, filling snacks and the overall food service experience is an important part of the camper’s day at Camp North Star. We go to great lengths to provide a healthy menu that is also kid friendly. But what constitutes a healthy menu for 7 – 17 year old boys and girls who are following an active schedule seven days a week?
For guidance we turned to the experts at Team Nutrition, an initiative of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service who define “healthy eating” in terms of five behaviors:
1. Eat a variety of foods.
2. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains.
3. Eat lower-fat foods more often.
4. Consume calcium-rich foods.
5. Be physically active.
This definition provided a foundation communicated through the My Plate Program.
With the help of a certified health coach, Camp North Star strives to provide meals and snacks that meet the USDA’s criteria. We did this by lowering or eliminating foods and drinks with high amounts of sugar, trans fats, food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, our camper and staff enjoy a salad bar featuring a wide variety of fresh vegetables and lean protein choices (low-fat cheese, legumes, eggs, and chicken) at every lunch and dinner. Chicken and other meats are grilled or baked instead of fried. Fruit infused water and 100% fruit juice are served instead of sugary punch drinks. Fresh fruit is available at every meal and throughout the day as a snack on the go.
It’s important for us to allow campers to create or continue to develop healthy eating habits while they are at Camp North Star. By offering so many nutritious choices, it’s common for even the pickiest of eaters to expand their palates during the summer with items such as Greek yogurt, hummus, guacamole, and falafel. And the benefits of healthy eating habits are well documented – mental well-being, ability to learn and concentrate, strong bones and muscles, good energy level, and the ability to fight off sickness and drive. Our number one responsibility at camp is the health and well being of our campers and being healthy includes a proper diet.
In 2016, Camp North Star became a nut-free camp. We do offer Sun Butter and Wow Butter which are allergy-friendly alternatives to peanut butter. There is one chef dedicated to campers and staff who have food allergies or intolerances. We are now able to accommodate those who need nut-free, gluten-free, and lactose-free food. There are also vegetarian options at every meal and snack.
Food service at Camp North Star is more than just about the menu, it’s about the whole experience around the meal. That means music, dancing, singing North Star songs and chants, and traditional hand clapping. Every meal is a chance for our community to come together as one and to spend quality time with fellow campers and staff while enjoying nutritious meals.