1. Apples meet oranges
This idea came about when a student couldn’t pick between an apple and an orange, says chef and Foodservice Director Francine Schmid, who will be adding an apple-orange sandwich to the menu at Shaler Area School District in Glenshaw, Pa., this fall. Comprising sections from a green apple, a red apple and an orange, Schmid and her team came up with a way to slice the fruits to ensure the sandwich has the proper proportions and that the citrus from the oranges keeps the apples from oxidizing. Schmid says the menu item quickly became a hit when it debuted during summer meals.
“The students were attracted by the color and at first couldn’t figure out how we did this,” she says. “As the days of the summer moved on, they looked forward to having it offered.”
2. Diversity in a dish
When brainstorming menu items for the new school year, the team at Houston Independent School District wanted to develop dishes that represent the diversity of its student body. As such, the district will menu pupusa, which are grilled corn tortillas filled with beans or cheese. Nutrition Officer Betti Wiggins and Executive Chef David Husbands collaborated to create a vegetarian dish of pupusa paired with collard greens, sweet potatoes and purple hull peas. After the dish was highlighted in media appearances over the summer, it’s become highly anticipated, says Christi Landry, the district’s strategic communications manager for nutrition services.
3. Clean-label soup
New to menus at Cincinnati Public School District this fall is a cheddar cheese broccoli soup that incorporates locally grown sweet potatoes and butternut squash. FSD Jessica Shelly says the soup aligns with the district’s goals for the year, which include incorporating items that avoid ingredients with no nutritional value. Shelly is planning to pair the soup with jalapeno cornbread, fresh fruit and items from the all-you-can-eat vegetable garden bar.
4. Freshness on the go
Also debuting at Shaler Area School District this year are munchables, or small plastic containers filled with healthy snacks such as apple and celery sticks, as well as yogurt and granola. “This appeals to the students who want fresh, fast and tasty items,” says Schmid. “The idea came from students who were not ready to eat breakfast when they arrive, and didn’t want a bagged snack [like chips or cookies] so close to lunch.”
5. New salad selection
Greenville County Schools in Greenville, S.C., has added five new salads to its menu. With varieties ranging from Alaskan salmon Caesar to Buffalo blue chicken, the salads made their official debut at the start of the school year earlier this month. Composed salad sales at the district are up 75% compared to this time last year, FSD Joe Urban says. “We saw a need for healthy, upscale grab-and-go options for our students, and thought a line of fantastic signature salads would fill that need,” he says. Urban says the five options the district is serving were “by far the most popular” when tested among students last year.