4 dishes K-12 operators can’t wait to debut this winter

school lunch

As the middle of the school year approaches, K-12 operators are adding healthier and globally influenced versions of classic dishes to their menus. Here’s a sampling. 

1. Meatballs with a kick


The newest item at Syracuse City School District in Syracuse, N.Y., has been a year in the making. “Last year, we began working with students on the Superintendent Student Cabinet who were very interested in making changes to the school lunch program,” says FoodService Director Rachel Murphy.

The district’s executive chef partnered with students who were enrolled in the district’s culinary program to create different meatballs, each influenced by a particular global cuisine. The meatballs were offered to students at a taste testing on National Meatball Day, during which Mexican meatballs were the clear favorite. After a few recipe tweaks, the Mexican meatballs will become a fixture on the menu this December.  

Photo by Jeffrey Newell

2. Vegetarian test

veggie fried rice

Vegetable fried rice, roasted garlic quinoa burgers and vegetarian chili are just some of the menu items students at Broward Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will get to try during the district’s annual food tasting event in December. Dishes that strike a chord with students will continue to be tested on menus throughout the winter and spring. Students will also get to try fresh produce such as starfruit and zucchini with avocado-ranch dressing during the show, says Program Manager Darlene Moppert. 

3. Bread bowl meets chicken pot pie

bread bowl

Vineland Public Schools in Vineland, N.J., has put a healthier spin on a chicken pot pie with its new chicken pot pie bread bowl, which is aimed to “meet students’ palate but be nutritious at the same time,” says Foodservice Director Purvesh Patel. The dish includes diced chicken, frozen peas, corn, carrots, onions, milk and fresh herbs.

4. Signature salad

salad plain

Williamson County Schools in Franklin, Tenn., offers students their choice of three different salads made fresh daily from its signature salad line. To keep things interesting for students, the managers revamp and rotate the 10 different salads in the line. “One newly revamped salad we are excited to debut this winter is our Asian chicken salad,” says Food Service Director James Remete.

“With chopped romaine and fresh spinach, golden baked chicken nuggets dipped in sweet and sour sauce, topped with mandarin oranges, sliced baby carrots, chow mein noodles and feather shredded cheddar cheese, this Asian salad is sure to be a huge success. Introducing children of all ages to a variety of flavors and nutrients is incredibly important to us, so this salad is exciting,” he says. 

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