Students dish out feedback for potential district lunch menus

Mike DeNardo
December 05, 2018 - 4:00 am
Students sampled meatless chicken nuggets, vegan burgers, dark chocolate and sea salt bars, vegan meatballs, turkey chili, organic cereal bars, and other offerings from two dozen vendors before rating them.

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The students were the ones dishing out grades Tuesday at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters, where kids taste-tested a smorgasbord of potential lunch fare.

Students sampled meatless chicken nuggets, vegan burgers, dark chocolate and sea salt bars, vegan meatballs, turkey chili, organic cereal bars, and other offerings from two dozen vendors before rating them, a system that Devon Sundberg, the district's dietetic coordinator, said will provide valuable feedback on possible additions to Philadelphia's school lunch menu.

"We take all of the ballots. We do a lot of analyzing and then we choose some of the favorites to put on the menu," she said. "Last year, we actually tried out a chicken curry and a lemongrass chicken based on this event."

U School sophomore Jay Acevedo said his school's food is fine — but it could be better.

"I was complaining a while ago, telling my teacher, 'Miss, I wish we could give our input on the food and stuff.' And now that the school district did this, I'm happy about it because I feel it's about time," he said at the district's third annual tasting event.

Diane Martin, representing potential vendor Los Cabos Mexican Food, was serving a cheesy bean dip.

"If kids don't like the food, it ends up in the trash. It's a waste for everybody. So student feedback is the most imperative thing that we can get," she said.

Wayne Grasela, the district's senior vice president for food services, echoed Martin, noting that the feedback is vital to prevent food waste.

"I get asked often, 'Do the students have input in the menu?' Well, this is proof in the pudding right here."