When one hears the words “school lunch,” memories of rubbery chicken nuggets, canned vegetables and unappetizing pizza typically come to mind.
But during the last several years, school lunches have received a major overhaul due to changing beliefs about nutrition and federal requirements.
In 2012, the federal Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act mandated that students take one-half cup of fruits/vegetables with their lunch for it to be counted as a reimbursable meal. The school district switched to the “My Plate,” format, which encourages making half the plate fruit and vegetable based.
“I always admire how good the trays look with the fruits and veggies included as part of the meal,” said Sarah Sterling, nutrition services director for the Camas School District. “It gives the plate a better eye appeal.”
Mark Jasper, nutrition director for the Washougal School District, echoed those sentiments.
“We promote the salad bars that we offer with the lunch price and offer ‘favorite’ items that are a big hit with students,” he said.