Schools in Greeley, Colo. are forgoing the frozen pizzas and assorted horse parts in favor of meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients. That's obviously better for students, who get better nutrients and fewer additives, but children are not historically great at doing things that are good for them. How do you sell kids on freshly cooked food when they're clamoring for junk? Greeley's new chef has some tricks up his sleeve:
Take macaroni and cheese, for example. It will still be a staple on the new menu and will still have that bright, strange yellow color that children have become accustomed to, but it will not be artificial. “No natural cheese is that color,” he said.
Greeley’s version will be colored by turmeric, a spice associated with Indian cooking. “Adds a really interesting, subtle flavor, too,” Mr. Coates said.
It's not all cloak-and-dagger substitutions, though. For the most part, the Greeley school lunch cooks are just reducing the number of ingredients stuffed into every meal. A Greeley school lunch burrito used to come in a package with 35 ingredients on the label; now it has 12, and they can probably all be defined by the kids who are eating them.
The shift to fresh food could be a big deal for Greeley. Sixty percent of public school students in the district are on a free or reduced lunch program, so healthier school lunches will improve daily nutrition for a lot of kids. And it's not even costing more money, though they did lose 10 net food service jobs.