School Food Gets Sophisticated

As students get exposed to more culturally diverse foods and choices, they seek those options in the cafeteria too. Schools across the country are incorporating more ethnically diverse foods into their menus and including them in exciting new build-your-own stations for student to customize their healthy lunches.

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Districts in the South have long incorporated Mexican food into the cafeteria, especially in heavily Latino-populated Texas. Bradford Trudeau, Director of Student Nutrition Services at Garland Independent School District (TX), said two of the fastest trends in school meals are international options and the ability to have students create their own lunch.

He attributes much of the success of school meals to the Menu Advisory Committee, which consists of two representative from each of the district’s high schools and includes parents and students. They meet in the springtime with students and superintendents and then about four times a year for committee discussions on improvements or changes to the menus.

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“We have a build your own Mexican bar, where our staff prepares fresh pico de gallo with cilantro, jalapeno, peach salsa – all from scratch,” said Trudeau. “It’s a favorite among students and school employees. A lot of our produce is locally sourced, which makes the food even more amazing.”

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Jennifer Craig, the Assistant Director Nutrition Menu Operations in Garland, said that the district has incorporated many new ethnic options, from Italian to Mexican, all within USDA school meal regulations to provide more whole grains, less sodium and more fruits and vegetables.


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