Clark County schools engage students as taste-testers in search for newly required, healthy foods the kids will eat

New federal nutrition standards “are not universally popular with students” in Clark County — some throw away recently required fresh fruits and vegetables — but “participation in school lunch programs has not been greatly affected,” Whitney Leggett reports for The Winchester Sun after reading School Nutrition Director Becky Lowery’s annual Wellness Report Card.

“This is a way for us to just sort of look at where we are and evaluate what we can do better,” Lowery told Leggett. The report highlights the requirements of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, such as a switch to whole-grain products, restrictions on fat and salt, and age-based calorie limits.

The greatest resistance has been to fruits, vegetables and whole-grain bread and pasta, Lowert told Leggett. Despite the complaints, participation in the school lunch and breakfast programs has only decreased by 1 percent since the 2013-14 school year, Leggett reports, along with a localized illustration.

To improve student satisfaction, Lowery implemented a student panel to taste possible new menu items. “It is much more difficult and more expensive to find good quality products that students will accept,” she told Leggett. “We’re just always trying to find good products that will still meet regulations.”

As part of the Farm to School initiative, Clark County strives to use more Kentucky Proud products, such as corn grown in Clark County, green beans from Louisville, and Western Kentucky blueberries, Lowery told Leggett. “As I hear about more things available to us that we can use, I will look into them,” she said. “We try to use as much as we can.”

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