Noted Chef Azmin Ghahreman, owner of Sapphire restaurant in Laguna Beach, launched Sapphire at School several years ago with the goal of nourishing and educating young people for a lifetime of well-being.
The program, overseen by doctors, dietitians, and other experts, began with a handful of Orange County schools but slowly expanded to include Sage in Newport Coast, and this school year, Harbor Day in Corona del Mar (one of 11 schools now enrolled in the Sapphire at School program).
The menus, created by Chef Azmin, are based on the Mediterranean Diet and focus on healthy whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, herbs, and spices. The program offers servings of lean meats, all-natural poultry and eggs, hormone-free dairy products, and, in spare amounts, sweets such as homemade cookies.
Special attention is given to dietary restrictions, with menus available to accommodate celiac and diabetic requirements.
Menus are published online for parents to review and pre-order special meals. Meals are created both in on-site kitchens at schools (such as Sage), or in the case of Harbor Day, in Sapphire at School’s own state-of-the-art facility and then delivered in temperature-controlled trucks.
“My goal is simple: I want to have these students eat the way I would want my own children to eat,” said Chef Azmin, who is a father of four. “When I originally set out to instill change by implementing the Sapphire at School program, I dreamed of the day when I would be providing students at nearly a dozen schools in the county with fresh, healthy meals designed to develop a lifetime of healthy eating habits.”
At Harbor Day, half of the 400 students are on the program. Parents of Harbor Day students recommended adding Sapphire.
Parents Mollie Rosing and Joyce Ann Mahoney head up the Sapphire at School program at Harbor Day, and said the
food was “great–healthy and nutritious, well balanced. You know your child is getting a healthy meal.”
Chef Azmin recited his Harbor Day menus: “Chicken chow main, falafel with yogurt, Persian kabobs, eggplant, natural burger, beef stroganoff, whole baked chicken tender. All dressings are homemade, all bake goods are natural, breads are whole wheat baked daily, lemonade and apple juice is fresh. Berries with yogurt is a healthy snack and dessert at the same time. The hot dogs and peperoni are nitrate free.”
For a complete list of schools participating in the Sapphire at School program, and to learn more about the program, visit www.sapphireatschool.com..