Students, parents taste test cafeteria food to find healthier options

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE News and photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 11:13 PM

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- Getting kids to eat their fruits and veggies can be a challenge, but one Central Texas school district is getting creative to make sure every student eats healthy.

There were some very interesting options Wednesday at the 10th Annual Food Serving and Taste Test for Georgetown ISD. The idea is to figure out which healthy foods the kids will actually eat so that it doesn't end up in the garbage.

The food at the taste test looked like typical cafeteria food. There was taco meat, macaroni and cheese, but little do the kids know, the food is actually made with vegetables.

"It has a little kick to it," one student remarked.

Sweet potato tater-tots, butternut squash macaroni and cheese, even the chocolate brownies are made with spinach.

"I mainly tasted the chocolate," said fourth grader London Van Raalte. "I would probably buy my lunch every day if that was in it."

"The kids are sometimes closed minded," explained parent Marilyn Simkin. "They get into a rut where they try the same thing every day, and it's good when they're willing to come here and try different foods."

"I don't really know what this is, but it's good," said fourth grader Greyson Doyle as he took a bite of taco meat.

"You can have nutritious food, and if the students don't eat it, it's not going to go in their bodies and help them," said Georgetown ISD Director of Child Nutrition Services Karen Kovach. "We need to make sure we're providing the most nutritious food that students will eat."

Under the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act, all schools are required to provide at least a half a cup of vegetables and fruit in each student's lunch.

"So with this food show we've got some very creative ideas on getting that half cup of fruit and vegetables in our meals," Kovach said.

Vegetable and fruit puree is one way to sneak in extra ingredients, and the kids don't seem to mind.

"So good!" exclaimed student Anissa Hilaire. "I just wanna get like five more of them!"

"I thought it was great," said Emma Simkin. "I loved every single bit of it."

Even the parents are on board.

"Try and stick some healthier stuff into the regular diet. It's a good thing," said Simkin.

"We want to give them something they're going to eat and that they're going to like," said Kovach.

So despite what you might remember from your school cafeteria experience, the students and parents KVUE spoke to say the school lunch menu's not so bad.

All of the students and parents at the taste test took a survey after each food station. The district will take a look at the results and decide what they want to add into next year's menu.

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