Lunch choices are healthier, but students aren’t fully on board

While some schools have had a smooth transition, some are still trying to get students to enjoy healthier lunch items.

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa.—School lunch is not what it used to be.

The jokes have written themselves over the years, stereotyping cafeteria meals ladled up by lunch ladies, trays filled with mystery meat and canned fruit cocktail, with ketchup counted as a vegetable.

A peek into Centre County lunchrooms tells a different story. State College high school students feasted on baked sweet potatoes and General Tso’s chicken last week. At Bald Eagle Area schools, chef salads with leafy romaine lettuce are a daily staple. At Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School, the fruits are fresh watermelon and sliced oranges.

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Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

Industry News & Opinion
sharing love

Having never personally experienced a hurricane, I can only imagine the horrors faced by the millions of people whose lives were affected by Harvey and Irma in late August and early September. It’s a group that comprises uncounted noncommercial operations, including Houston Independent School District, which serves 215,000 students.

But from that tragedy has come one of the most impressive feats of foodservice I’ve seen since coming on board at this magazine, partially spearheaded by Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins , who only just joined the district. For the entire school year,...

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