A school hot lunch has come a long way since mason jars of soup were heated up on a stove in the classroom. As school nutrition professionals, we are required to follow complex USDA nutritional requirements. School menus are a puzzle of components, including whole grains, proteins, dairy, vegetables groups and fruits with limits on calories, fats and sodium that must fit together to meet guidelines.
A new menu item often starts as a suggestion or has been spotted at an industry food show. Then it has to find a place on the menu where it fits the weekly nutritional totals. The end goal is a menu that offers our students healthy lunch options that they will enjoy and will encourage healthy eating habits.