CPS lunch menu: Students taste test variety of new cafeteria food to offer items kids like eating

New items rolling out include smoothies and variety of flatbreads.

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, September 8, 2022
CPS students taste test variety of new cafeteria food to create lunch menu kids like eating
A group of CPS students are not only eating the cafeteria food, but liking it.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For lunch time at Eugene Field Elementary in Rogers Park, students are not only eating the cafeteria food but liking it.

"The spinach was real nice, so was the drumstick," said 8th-grade student, Malachi Lightfoot.

"In the past years, I've been picky with my food, especially at CPS, but this year the food has been really good," added Esther Foli, a 6th-grade student.

Getting it right is a huge challenge for Chicago Public Schools Nutrition Program Manager Justine Britten.

"It's really a constant balance of finding really healthy food, but also fan favorites that kids are going to eat," Britten said.

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Grilled drumsticks and waffles are a fan favorite, making a return to the menu this year. New items rolling out include smoothies and variety of flatbreads. Chicken ham with caramelized onions and cheddar cheese was Thursday's choice.

"We have a barbecue tofu dish, which I'm excited about, and we have a variety of different pizza flavor we are testing out," Britten said.

New items are chosen with the help of CPS students. Over the summer, over 2,000 students taste-tested various food items created by chefs.

"Over the last 7 or 8 years, CPS has been trying something different getting parents involved students involved, so now we see the change," said Adrian Dobbins, principal at Edward Field Elementary.

Principal Dobbins has seen the evolution of CPS cafeteria food since she was a student in the 80s. Watching kids throw food out was pretty common until recent years.

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"It's a much-improved selection compared to what we had in the past," Dobbins said.

Dobbins said student taste testing is the key.

To make it even tastier, 6th grader Jhorri Mack has a suggestion.

"It could be possible to make healthier foods that could be good if they were seasoned more," Mack said.

Just a little food for thought for next school year.