The federal government has finalized new nutrition standards for the meals served to nearly 32 million students every school day. These new standards require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables (including legumes, dark green and orange vegetables every week), switch to whole grains and limit the sodium and calories in each meal.
Schools meals must meet these new requirements starting in the 2012-2013 school year, but school nutrition professionals have already been working toward these goals by mixing up the menu, offering a wider variety of fresh produce and introducing new, healthier entrees in the cafeteria.
As every parent knows, “new” can be a hard sell at meal time, but schools are constantly finding ways to get kids excited about trying different foods, including their veggies. Many school cafeterias use student taste tests to encourage students to eat these healthier options. After all, even young children know the value of a free sample!
For example, in Londonderry School District (DE) students get to try a new fruit or vegetable every month, learn about its nutritional benefits and chose from special cafeteria recipes that include the featured produce.
Many schools also allow students to taste test and vote on healthy new menu options. Check out this video to learn more about the taste test program in Norfolk Public Schools (Virginia).