Fairfax, Va., students unhappy with quality of meals

A survey of students at Fairfax County Public Schools shows that 79% of students strongly disagree with the statement, "I usually like the food served in the cafeteria."

Nov. 18—Some things never change: A survey of students commissioned by Fairfax County Public Schools, in Va., shows unhappiness with the quality of meals served in schools, and the nutritional content of the options that are available.

Only 16 percent of students who participated in the survey agreed with the statement “I usually like the food served in the cafeteria,” while 79 percent disagreed—including 44 percent who “strongly disagreed”—with that statement.

Cafeterias in the school system’s 196 schools also got negative reviews for the variety of what they serve, with only 22 percent liking the array of options and 68 percent unhappy with them.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources