Fresh cooking key for new meal regs

Calif. school focuses on scratch cooking to satisfy kids.

Sept. 25—Lodi (Calif.) Unified School District Food Services Director Warren Sun chopped a California-grown russet potato Monday and slid the chunks into a large pot of what would become a fresh, summer chicken stew, a dish that state leaders in nutrition education hope will become one of many new recipes for millions of children in the coming years.

Soups and stews are both familiar and tasty for children. They've eaten it their whole lives, food gurus say. And in a push to get school chefs to cook with stoves instead of microwaves, the need to find meals that kids will eat is of the utmost importance in the continued push for healthier cafeterias.

Sun said Lodi Unified has been gradually doing more and more fresh cooking mixed with salad bars over the past three years, but school food experts are starting to think further outside the lunchbox than ever before, finding recipes they say are exciting and healthy.