Registered dietitian and chef Cyndie Story prepared nutritious and tasty lunches for elementary students in Hammond, Ind., as a preview of new menu items the district will offer in the fall that emphasize fresh foods made on-site. Story, a school food consultant who calls herself an "edu-tainer" mixing fun with learning, will work with kitchen staff to create signature dishes exclusive to the schools.
When considering whether to serve food items in school cafeterias, nutrition professionals ask "can we afford this, is it good for them, does it meet all the new food requirements ...," said Serena Suthers, director of school food and nutrition services in Prince William County, Va. However, another key question nutrition professionals nationwide are asking is whether students will eat the food if it is available. Some districts are hosting student taste-testing events to help them create healthy menus that are appealing to students.
Schools in Iowa increasingly are using student taste-testing to introduce new foods, encourage healthier eating and help nutrition professionals craft menus. Sandy Huisman, director of nutrition services in Des Moines schools, say the taste-tests help schools avoid wasting money on food rejected by students. "Sometimes we think it's a great item, but that doesn't necessarily mean the kids do," she said. "Just like at home, not everything passes the test."
Data gathered earlier this year for Springfield, Mo., schools reveal that 13,184 students qualify for free and reduced-price meals -- about 54.3% of students, up from 52.9% the year before. Officials say they plan to ensure that more parents are aware of the free- and reduced-price meal program in the upcoming school year.
Schools in the Los Angeles area will be opening on-site wellness centers for students, families and neighborhood residents. School clinics traditionally have been run on an acute episodic model of care, but Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said they need to adopt a systemic wellness model.