School lunches have a new taste

By Audrey Wise

February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 26, 2014 at 9:47 PM CDT

NORMAL, Ill -- Changes are coming to a school lunch near you and some area students got a taste.

Eight grader Josh Lewis said he tries to make healthy food choices in the lunch line.

Lewis explained Wednesday was no different, "Fruit and yogurt parfait with a muffin and some granola. I think it was fairly healthy."

During the 2012 school year the USDA made stricter regulations across the country when it comes to school lunches. Particularly they focused on cutting calories, fat content and increasing fruits and vegetables.

"I think it's pretty good, I think it can be improved though," said Lewis of the current lunch options.

"They just don't seem to like the new products as well, it's different from what they're used to," said Angela Vale, assistant food services director for Unit 5.

Additional changes will be phased in. Next year the big focus will be on lower sodium and whole grain rich products. Wednesday afternoon Parkside Junior High students got to taste test some possible menu additions for next year.

Vale said, "They're definitely our harshest critics and we try to listen what they have to say."

Reaction was mixed.

"Chocolate chip cookie and one of those pepperoni pizza bites, but I didn't try the sweet potatoes because I really don't care for them, but the two that I had were good," said 8th grader Kayla Johnson.

Lewis added, "I was actually kind of surprised because I didn't think it would be good, but it was good."

Cafeteria staff will take the students feed back into consideration, as they continue to balance taste with new requirements.

"If they're not eating that same food at home it may be more difficult for them to adapt, but research studies have shown over and over again that our taste buds can change and we learn to enjoy new and different foods all the time," said Vale.

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