Some school cafeterias go upscale with menus

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by ROBERTA ROMERO / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 4, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 4 at 11:00 AM

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- A typical Wednesday morning breakfast at the Lake Washington High School cafeteria is underway with students lined up and ready to be fed. On the menu, freshly-made waffles with fruit toppings or an omelet made to order with fresh ingredients.

"I like eating in the cafeteria now, because they have a lot of options and it's healthy," said John Lyon, a senior and the Associated Student Body president.

That's the goal now for school districts. It's not enough anymore to simply provide food. Because of new federal guidelines, the meal must meet certain nutrition criteria while also appealing to students.

"That's the challenge, we can put out lots of healthy foods, but it can be difficult getting students to eat them," said Chris Lutgen of Lake Washington School District's Nutrition Services.

So now, school cafeterias like the one at Lake Washington High School cater specifically to the customer -- picky teen eaters. Michelle McDonald, the kitchen manager at Lake Washington, said, "We've adapted menus and changed foods as the students tell us what they want."

And it's working.

The most popular item on the menu is the Pasta Bar.

"On the day we serve the Pasta Bar, students will try to leave class early and be the first in line," said McDonald. "They know it runs out because so many kids love it."

Breakfast costs $1.50 and lunch is $2.75. Some students qualify for the free lunch/breakfast program.

"The bottom line is that we need to keep these kids engaged, fed and healthy, and this new approach is helping to make that happen," Lyon said.

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