Six protein items take over school lunch trays

Trends include eggs, legumes, Greek yogurt and more.

Nov. 21—You may have heard that school lunch choices are healthier with the new USDA regulations, but did you know that school cafeterias are also downright trendy? The same menu innovations, ethnic flavors and hot products seen in top restaurants are showing up in schools from Alaska to Maine. Like trend-conscious restaurateurs, school nutrition professionals know that their customers want the same things they see on TV food shows with celebrity chefs.

Protein has been trending for several years -- and 2014 forecasts call for even more protein power. Technomic's Take: 10 Trends for 2014 predicts the parameters of protein will be pushed in new directions -- with more ethnic BBQ flavors, creative center-of-the-plate alternatives for both vegetarians and flexitarians, and pork as a rising star. The six satisfying trends profiled here are taking over schools, from large urban and suburban schools to tiny rural districts.

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Ideas and Innovation
pureed food

As many of our residents are required to eat only modified food due to their health, we have stepped up to the challenge of creating appetizing and visually appealing meal options through our puree program. Using only fresh ingredients, proteins are pureed in a raw state and then baked in a mold. We have discovered that the taste is far more pleasing when fresh ingredients are used, and this provides the resident with a healthy, nutritious caloric valued meal.

Ideas and Innovation
fruits and veggies

I started a Nutrition Promoters program to encourage kids to eat healthy. The current lunch assistants are now titled and trained as Nutrition Promoters. As they work in the lunchroom, they hand out prizes and give motivation and encouragement to students to try new foods, especially fruits and vegetables. One of the prizes is a trading card series called the Superfood Squad for kids to collect and learn more about the amazing powers and benefits of superfoods.

Managing Your Business
hand selecting picture

According to the Wall Street Journal, new artificial intelligence technologies are designed to assist HR each step of the way, from recruitment to retention. They scour the internet for suitable job candidates; they take new employees through the onboarding process; they answer benefits questions; and they even scan employee correspondence for signs of unhappiness or counterproductivity. But do they make sense for foodservice operators?

“Anything that can help technology-wise, why not?” says David Hill, director of dining hall operations at the University of New Hampshire . “It...

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

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