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The University Prep Student Envoys came together yesterday for a taste test in their cafeteria under the leadership of Annie Fiscus, a project specialist for Environments that Support Teaching and Learning.

The Student Envoys are a group of students with the natural ability to lead. Whether a traditional or nontraditional leader, the Student Envoy program is designed to help those students harness their energy to do good in their school. The Envoys at University Prep have shown a strong interest in school food, and their voices were heard by the Food Service Department.

In February, Elizabeth Henry, Registered Dietitian for the Food Service Department, spoke with the Student Envoys about school food and some of the restrictions in the cafeteria. Surveys were administered to students, and school food feedback was collected.

The students are our customers. We wouldn’t have a meal program without them so their thoughts and opinions really count. When we hear about a student body that is frustrated with the school food, our first engagement is usually to educate the students about the meal program, the budget restraints, and the nutrition regulations and requirements from the USDA. Then we collect the feedback – what is going on in that school and what can we do to make it better for the students?

One way to engage students in the school food process and to hear their voices is to hold a taste test. The students at University Prep tasted several items and rated them on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) according to taste. The items tested were items that are being considered for next year’s menu. The samples included lentils and rice, southwest rice, macaroni and cheese, soft tortilla shells, and a chocolate granola bar.

Students voted most favorably for the chocolate granola bar, but the lentils and rice came in a close second! Doing taste test is a good way to get kids to taste some healthier foods (like lentils) that they might not otherwise try.

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