Revamped school lunches include spinach, kale, butternut squash - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Revamped school lunches include spinach, kale, butternut squash

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Louisville, KY (WDRB) -- Kale, butternut squash, and spinach are being added to the JCPS menu.

During lunch time Monday at Engelhard Elementary School, there are mixed reviews on the food.  Fifth grader Tejanae Price says, "Sometimes they are good. Sometimes they are not." She says she likes chicken nuggets, pizza, and hamburgers.

Noah Finley, who is also in fifth grade, knows exactly what foods he wants to eat in the cafeteria. He says, "Chicken patty, chicken nuggets and sloppy joes."

JCPS serves those items, but is also revamping the menu using federal nutrition standards. The district says elementary school meals are about 650 calories.

Martha Dysart, the JCPS manager of the Nutrition Service Center took WDRB through the lunch line. She says, "They come in, get the main entree, then they can come through here and pick up a hot vegetable if they want. If they don't want a hot vegetable, they can pick up some of the colder items we have." One choice must be a fruit or vegetable, but students can have up to four.

Lunches also include more whole grains, lower sugar and less sodium, no fried foods, and milk that is fat free or 1 percent.  Produce is purchased from local farmers and recipes are tested by a chef.

Dysart says some items didn't pass the test at first. "Well, actually our spaghetti sauce was one of the items we tested three or four times with students." She says they tried to do things with different spices and different herbs to make the sauce taste better.

Kale chips, spinach, and butternut squash are being added to the menu too. Dysart says there is a concern that students will throw away the foods they are not familiar with. She says cafeteria managers are giving students samples of butternut squash and spinach. That way if they like it, they can order it.

With high rates of childhood obesity, educators hope that making healthier choices at school will help students make healthier choices at home and into adulthood.

Nutrition employees try the new recipes first. Then, an advisory council including students also test the food before it's put on the menu.

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