Catering to student taste and government regulations.
School dining staffs face what can sometimes seem like an impossible challenge, delivering meals students enjoy while staying within increasingly tight budgets and USDA regulations. There’s still hope. Healthy school meals can still taste delicious, especially when schools involve students in the menu planning process.
Some schools have already implemented creative ideas to give students more control over school meals. A Wichita school invited students to test taste some new menu items, including wraps and pizza. Students shared their opinions using electronic clickers. Some schools are starting to implement web menu technology to empower students to make better choices by learning more about food health information.
There are still simpler approaches. Marzetti’s Pittsburgh area school broker representative recommends several ways for schools to educate students on USDA regulations while showing the school is interested in appealing to their taste palettes:
- Use home economics classes as an opportunity to speak to students about the importance of whole grains in their diets and what the school does to address regulations.
- Invite students to participate in taste testings to collect their feedback on different dishes. These students can be excellent peer ambassadors for the school meal program because they become part of the process.
- Be honest with students on the fact that school food is regulated to meet health requirements but also educate them on what the staff does to make it taste as good as possible. Start with younger students and invite them to visit the cafeteria while meals are being prepared. Show them the process. Don’t just tell them about it.
Students can be a tough crowd to please, but bringing them along in the process can help them have a better understanding of school meals and give you more insight into the tastes of your school’s unique student population.
You can find more information on MarzettiFoodservice.com to see how our whole grain products satisfy the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.