Education News

Greater Houston Students Taste New School Lunch Recipes

The goal of the School Nutrition Expo is to get more kids to eat cafeteria food.

Student Brooke Simmons waits in line at a booth as a vendor scoops teriyaki chicken onto a plate for her to taste.
Taylor High School Senior Brooke Simmons samples some teriyaki chicken at the School Nutrition Expo.

Teri Crook is scooping out samples of frozen yogurt at the Humble Civic Center. She hands a spoonful of vanilla to senior Brooke Simmons – and it's a hit.

"It's really good," says Simmons, who attends James E. Taylor High School in Katy. "You have a really good vanilla flavor with it, and it's still kind of frozen too, so it's almost like eating an ice cream."

From jalapeno cheddar bread to teriyaki grilled chicken, the food at the 2015 School Nutrition Expo is a lot different than the mystery meat and square pizzas you might remember.

Vendors try to come up with tasty recipes that meet federal nutrition guidelines – less sodium, more whole grains, fruits and veggies. Students rate the food on scorecards, and the data helps school administrators decide which items to add to their menus.

Representatives from 40 school districts across Greater Houston were in attendance, and eight districts brought dozens of students to sample the food.

Simmons thinks tastier options would get more kids to eat their lunch rather than throwing it away.

"We see it a lot at our school," Simmons says. "I mean, it's a waste of food so you kind of feel bad, but I mean, if the kids don't like it they're not going to eat it."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says schools can reduce waste by nearly a third using strategies like scheduling lunch after recess and giving students more time to eat.

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