SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — The school year is well underway and you may be wondering what your kids eat when they’re away from home.
Child nutrition director for the Springdale School District, Gena Smith said menus are based on guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture, which factors in kids’ ages and grade levels.
Schools must offer a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and milk.
However, Smith said students also have some say in what they eat.
“We also do taste testing with our students to get feedback and we look at trends within our area to see what we think might do well here at the school,” Smith said.
Smith said the district follows an offer versus serve model. This means kids are offered several different fruit and vegetable options as a way to lower food waste.
She also said students get to be involved in growing what they eat. School gardens in the district allow kids to be involved in the planting of the food, which she said makes them more likely to want to eat and learn about it.
Smith said she hopes kids take the skills they learn in the cafeteria well beyond their school years.
“I hope that they walk away from their experience here with good habits,” Smith said. “That’s very important that we have good nutritional habits, that we’re in an environment that promotes healthy living and a healthy lifestyle.”
Smith said spicy and Mediterranean foods are a couple of the big trends the district has seen this year.