Students Produce and Host School Lunch Madness Contest on Weekly TV Show

Students at Sussex Central High School (DE) held a first-ever school lunch contest on their student-produced weekly show, Central Access TV. Staff and students gave candid interviews describing their favorite school meals and sharing their predictions for a segment called Lunch Madness, a play on the popular March Madness basketball tournament.


The poll was available online and each week students selected winners in head-to-head contests following the Lunch Madness bracket.  At the end of each week, the winning lunches progressed to the next round, until the final lunch was crowned the winner – the classic cheese steak sandwich. The cheese steak sub features tender seasoned steak meat and cheese on a whole-wheat bun. It is served with optional green peppers for added flavor and is often accompanied with oven baked French fries.

0“In the final round of Lunch Madness, the cheese steak sub went head-to-head with [a well-known brand] of pizza,” said Indian River School District Nutrition Specialist Nicola Boyle, RD, LDN. “It was an extremely close contest, with only a few votes separating the two finalists. In the end, the cheese steak sub earned the title of Best School Lunch. We would love to run this contest again. The fact that the contest was discussed on the TV show created a lot of additional interest and really helped to get the school community talking about school meals.”

The winner: a classic cheese steak sub on a whole-wheat bun, served with fruits, veggies and milk.

In addition to the cheese steak sub and traditional pizza, contest choices included mozzarella sticks, chicken parmesan, chicken patty sandwich, gold rush burger, French toast sticks, buffalo chicken pizza, barbecue pork sandwich, Mandarin orange chicken, quesadillas, toasted cheese sandwich, chicken alfredo, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, meatball sub and a variety of chicken dishes.

“I think this contest was a wonderful way to get students engaged in school meals and highlight the delicious options available in the cafeteria,” said Boyle. “It created a buzz throughout the school about school lunch and everyone was eager to find out which lunch would be the winner. It also gave students a great platform to provide feedback about their favorite meals.”


This was also a great way for the Nutrition Services Department at Sussex Central High School to collect data and gather feedback about schools meals. Students chose a wide variety of favorite lunches – from classic favorites like the whole-muscle chicken sandwich, to newer offerings like the steak teriyaki. Boyle explained that introducing new recipes periodically helps to keep students interested and engaged in what they are offering in the cafeteria.


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