School Lunches Adding More Ethnic Flavors

School Lunches Adding More Ethnic Flavors

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Brooke Walker ReportingThese days school lunch is becoming more than just pizza and tater tots. In fact, many schools, including those in Murray District, are adding more of an ethnic flavor to their menu.

Teachers and administrators at Liberty Elementary School believe education is all about the experience, and they want to help their students experience the world one bite at a time. Today the lunchroom at Liberty Elementary transformed into a tester's table where expert opinion varied.

Hallee Maxwell, 1st grader: “It was good, sour. But I liked it.”

Katelyn Banks, 3rd grader: “It was pretty nasty because the brown one didn’t have that much taste to it so I didn’t like it very much.”

Micah Oborn, 3rd grader: “It was good.”

CJ Deyoung, 1st grade: “I think it was horrible because it was too spicy.”

But curiosity took over even the toughest critic, who saw it through to the very last bite.

Jodi Vlam: "The pizza, the chicken nuggets, those will always be standard, but we are trying to offer them things that can broaden their tastes."

Murray District Food Service Director, Jodi Vlam, began adding a different "flavor" to the menu about three years ago, to appeal to the diverse student population. Today’s lunches include enchiladas, teriyaki beef and egg rolls.

Jodi Vlam: "To offer them more variety and kind of catering to the diverse population across the state as well as the diverse tastes of children."

And trading French fries for rice also pays off nutritionally.

Jodi Vlam: "Some of those American dishes that are really popular, in some respects can be harder to balance than the cultural menus.”

A perk that only adds to an important goal --

Jodi Vlam: “No boring lunches (laughs).”

District nutritionists actually meet with teachers, a few students and food providers each month to sample new items. Based on today's feedback, it looks like orange flavored chicken will appear on lunch trays this December.

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