Using bright produce to entice kids

Dana Moran, Managing Editor

forks vegetables

Artificial color is fighting a losing battle, with manufacturers and restaurants dropping many additives. There’s plenty of bright produce to be had, though operators are struggling to get kids to consume it. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires that students take a half-cup of fruit or vegetables with their lunches in order for schools to receive federal funding—whether they eat it or not. Here are some tips to entice them.

How does your lunch grow?

While school gardens require working with the community and school district, Julia Bauscher, director of school and community nutrition services for Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky., and 2014-15 president of the School Nutrition Association, points to hands-on benefits: “If kids grow it, they’re more likely to eat it,” she said at May’s National Restaurant Association show.

Ask your customers

“I don’t know of too many districts who don’t convene students to provide input for their school menus and to try items that the director would like to offer,”  Bauscher says.

Use the full rainbow

“Red quinoa is kind of like purplish black, and [there’s] not a whole lot going on there,” says Bill Scepansky, chef-owner of consulting firm Smart Partners in Lancaster, Pa. “But all of a sudden you put a little carrot and kale in there, and now it looks great.” 

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