RCSD Works to Improve School Lunches

Jun 13, 2013

New school lunch options at school no. 19. It includes a grilled chicken sandwich, broccoli alfredo, rice and curry chicken with raisins.
Credit Sarah Tembeckjian / WXXI News

Who remembers what school lunches were like?

Well, the Rochester City School District is taking strides to improve its lunch meals by offering healthier options to  elementary students.

On Thursday, some parents, and their children, had an opportunity to sample three new dishes at school no. 19. On the menu: a grilled chicken sandwich, curry chicken with raisins, rice plus broccoli and alfredo.

"I think the curry might be a little unfamiliar for a lot of kids," says Jana Halsey, who's daughter will be entering kindergarten this fall at school no. 46. "It is healthy and it does cater to an adult taste but I'm not sure, I think a lot of it would end up in the garbage.”

Halsey says she does think it's important that the district is working on providing healthier food choices for kids.

Students have been trying out the new options since Wednesday, and will have their final "taste test" on Friday. They'll fill out a survey to let school officials know what they liked and didn't like. Moms and dads had to fill one out too. Their results will be compared to the students', in an effort to help Food Services decide on a final menu.

"We still occasionally give chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches because that's what kids like," says David Brown, director of Food Service for the city school district. "But what we really want to do is get more quality and homemade products in front of the kids such as the broccoli alfredo. In that, we're using a whole wheat pasta, which is absolutely incredible because it gives you all the nutrition plus there's the flavor with it."

Brown says the "taste test" stemmed from the district's Facebook page where parents made complaints about school lunches - particularly its chicken sandwich.

So far, no. 19 school is one of three elementary schools with an upgraded kitchen, which allows the school chef to cook and prepare fresh food on-site. Brown says the goal is modernization 11 elementary school kitchens over the next three years.

Here's a video of Halsey and her daughter checking out the new lunch options.