High-school athletes who participate in rigorous sports training can come to practice fortified by "Coaches Corner," a new menu created just for them.
"Coaches Corner" is a variety of 1,000-calorie lunches that provide athletes, and others who want to eat healthier meals, with foods that are high in carbohydrates with moderate amounts of protein and a low fat content.
For a $1.75, students who select "Corner" meals will dine on such items as Chicken Filet, Soft Tacos, Chicken Hoagie, Turkey Club, Chic-O-Philly or soup and salad bar.
In addition to the daily entree, the lunches will include a half cup each of hot vegetables, fresh or canned fruit, and lettuce and tomato.
"These are the building blocks for better performance," said Cathy Haymaker, a registered dietitian who designed the menus.
Coach's Corner was conceived by Mary Klatko, food and nutrition services supervisor of Howard County Schools, who introduced prepaid meals and "Super Lunch" to the system last year.
"I'm a member of the Wellness Commission and thought we should be doing more to bring good nutrition to school lunches," said Ms. Klatko as she explained the thinking behind Coach's Corner.
Howard County is believed to be the only jurisdiction in the state offering Coach's Corner, Super Lunch or a full year prepayment plan.
"Last year I came up with Super Lunch after watching some students buy two lunches" Ms. Klatko said. "The idea," she added, "is to give the kids more of what they want."
As part of Coach's Corner, information about building muscles, dieting and weight gain will be posted inside lunchrooms. "We're trying to provide information at the same time," Ms. Haymaker said.