The Flavor podcast team met recently with Marsha Hall, the executive chef and special events coordinator for Elkhart Schools, to talk about the ways she’s trying to improve school lunches for students.
What can you do to make school lunch better? Hall says you can start by making it in-house.
“What we’re trying to do is get back to more scratch cooking using fresh vegetables, herbs. And creating different ways of getting our students to try different foods,” said Hall.
Armed with a full complement of sauces and colorful dishes, Hall let the team taste several of the different items that she’s created for this school year.
Hall brought three dressings for the team to try — ranch, cucumber and avocado — along with a sauce the schools will be serving on top of burgers.
She also brought in a few side dishes for the crew to sample: a fruit salad — with watermelon, strawberries and jalapenos — a corn salsa and sweet potatoes mixed with oranges and pineapples.
But Hall isn’t content to just make healthy, creative and colorful dishes, she wants student approval.
“One of the things that we are doing that’s exciting in our school, is we will be going out — I will be taking these sauces and recipes out — to our schools, our middle schools and our high schools, and I will have taste testing with our students,” Hall said.
That feedback, Hall believes, is what will be a major factor to the success of the new foods.
“To me that’s exciting [getting feedback]. When the majority of our students say ‘yes, I like that, I wanna see that on the menu’ and then when it comes up on the menu they know what it is and they know they like to taste it, so they take it.”
The ingredients of healthy, attractive and kid-approved food is what Hall thinks will be the recipe for success for school lunches.
What did the team think of the food they tried? For the answer to that, you’ll have to take a listen.