Arizona Schools Put the Spark Back in School Lunch
Students in Arizona's Chandler Unified School District are excited about the changes in their school meals. New meal guidelines have put a spark back into the school breakfast and lunch programs, and we're seeing positive outcomes and exciting developments as we serve healthy and kid-tested meals.
One of the most positive outcomes we have seen is the increase in acceptance and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by the students. We pre-package a side salad daily that has dark green leafy lettuce, a different red/orange vegetable like tomatoes, red peppers or carrots, and our homemade low-fat ranch dressing. Students have commented that they love the look of these new salads.
Kids enjoy a healthy snack at school in Chandler, Arizona. (Photo credit Chandler Unified School District)
We have continued to conduct many taste testings and focus groups to make sure that our students are involved in the creation of the food we serve. As we have increased whole-grains in all of our homemade bakery items and reduced the sodium in our entrees, students have been instrumental in helping us develop an acceptable flavor profile for these items. We have partnered with them to make sure they are educated on the new meal guidelines and that they are part of the process. Students are more excited about the meals they eat if they feel they are part of the process.
We will continue to improve our menu to meet the new meal guidelines in the future. The key is to having an open mind and “having a healthy disregard for the impossible."
First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative is celebrating healthy school meals for National Nutrition Month. To learn more about the historic, healthy changes to school meals, click here.
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