Students hungry for input on school food

This piece first appeared in Lynn Public Schools Spring 2017 Edition of the Lynn Educator. 

When asked if there is anything students would change about school food, a common response at English and Classical is more hot lunches. With more than 1,000 students at each school split between four lunch periods, students that want the hot lunch item for that day find themselves running to lunch hoping there will be some left.

This and other issues students encounter have been discussed within the Lynn Youth Health Alliance (LYHA), a group of high school students at English and Classical on a mission to create positive change in Lynn’s health and food environment.

For the first time, LYHA partnered with Lynn Public Schools and Chartwells Schools Dining Services last fall to obtain feedback from students about school meals. School food plays a vital role in student health, academic achievement, and school behavior, especially in a district where many students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Additionally, more student involvement in the school food process could result in increased meal participation rates, which increases government reimbursement rates and generates more revenue for the school.

At their first quarterly meeting in October, with Chartwells dietitian Kelsey Massis, students had the chance to learn about how school food works and ask questions such as “Why is juice offered every day during breakfast, but only a few days a week during lunch?” and “Why is pizza offered every day?” At the next meeting, Chartwells and LPS administrators attempted to gain a better sense of how students feel about school meals.

In addition to the quarterly meetings, students are working to creatively gather feedback from their peers. LYHA chose two items to be featured on the January menu from a pre-approved list of recipes: Cheesy Baked Whole Wheat Pasta and Strawberry Chicken Salad. Students collected feedback from their peers during lunch hours when these items were featured on the menu, asking their opinion so they could report back to Chartwells. The youth will continue to work with Chartwells on student menu.

See original piece here, on page 11.

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