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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Hutchinson Middle School in Hutchinson, Minn., invited students to help serve lunch in an effort to encourage their peers to try new, healthy recipes, Hutchinson Leader reports.

The students, who are part of the school’s Students in Action Club, created posters to advertise the new meal and helped serve it to students during lunch.

The school’s kitchen manager, Janet Schmidt, said that around 37 more students than normal got in line to try the meal. The school plans to have students from the club help serve lunch once every month.

Read the full story via Hutchinson...

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Industry News & Opinion

After receiving mixed feedback from parents, Randolph County School District in Asheboro, N.C., is inviting parents to tour the district’s kitchens and cafeterias to see how the food for school meals is made, Fox 8 reports.

School officials say that the tours, part of the district’s first Food Day for Parents, will give parents an inside look at the upkeep of the facilities, as well as enable them to sample some food and see how the district is upholding USDA guidelines.

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After fielding complaints from parents and students, Sodexo is launching an initiative to improve dining services at Emerson College in Boston, the Berkeley Beacon reports.

The initiative will kick off this month with an event dubbed Fresh Start, marking the start of several moves aimed at improving service—including the hiring of a new executive chef, the addition of a second sous chef, and retraining current staff on food preparation and presentation.

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