Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) has received a $550,000 grant from the Life Time Foundation, a private operating foundation created by Life Time-The Healthy Way of Life Co., to purchase new food service equipment and enable it to better manage and remove unhealthy ingredients from its school menu in favor of natural, wholesome foods for the district's more than 36,000 students. MPS and Life Time also will collaborate on the development of a sustainable menu and budget model for schools and districts across the country to use to improve their own school meal programs.

“Our partnership with Life Time is so timely given the school meal reform underway in Minneapolis and across the country,” says MPS Culinary & Nutrition Services Director Bertrand Weber. “We have already begun a makeover of MPS school meals by initiating rigorous nutrition parameters, converting schools back to cooking kitchens, installing salad bars, and partnering with local chefs. We’re grateful for the commitment the Life Time Foundation has made, which allows us to take a huge leap forward to ensure our students have access to minimally-processed, clean, real food while helping pave the way for other schools.”

Ingredients to be removed from much of the MPS school menu include bleached flour, artificial preservatives/colors/sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats/hydrogenated oils and antibiotics and hormones in beef and other animal products whenever possible.

“Eating healthy is very simple,” says Life Time Chairman/President/CEO Bahram Akradi. “If you eliminate highly processed and artificial ingredients, you end up with healthy food. Processed and artificial ingredients are highly problematic and have been overused during the last 20 to 30 years. Children deserve healthy meals and we shouldn’t settle for anything less. The model we’re creating with Minneapolis Public Schools, along with the other schools we’re supporting, is designed to be replicated so every school can serve healthy lunches.”

The Life Time Foundation currently is working with more than 90 schools in Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio, and is seeking new school applicants. Email schoollunch@lifetimefitness.com to submit a school for consideration. For more information about the Life Time Foundation’s school lunch program, go to www.ltffoundation.org or www.facebook.com/lifetimefitnessfoundation.