Taste Test

Taste Test Broward Schools

Some trendy surprises greeted Broward County students when they lined up in the cafeteria as school started last month. 

They include vegan choices like Sunbutter and Grape Jelly Sandwich (Sunbutter is made from sunflower seeds), Vegan Bean and Green Chili Burrito and Vegan Chik’n Nugget Salad (a soy blend made to taste like chicken). There are also healthier offerings like Lemongrass Chicken and a dessert with yogurt cookies and No Nut Butter, a chocolatey dipping spread made of
yellow peas. 

It’s part of a Food and Nutrition Services effort to enhance school menus with more “clean-label” selections, foods that contain more natural ingredients with less fillers and no artificial ingredients or synthetic chemicals.

But, not to worry, this year’s menus haven’t forsaken welcome comfort foods — such warm, home-cooked-style meals as Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Macaroni and Cheese in a Corn Bread Bowl and Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce. 

The dishes were taste-tested by 200 students from Watkins Elementary School in Pembroke Park and Nova Middle School in Davie at an annual Student Food Show. The kids rated the dishes from “gross” to “awesome.” The “awesomes” made it onto the menus.

Palm Beach County students had their own taste test last month and also gave a thumbs up to new trendy items like a string-cheese-style blueberry and mozzarella stick, creamy alfredo pasta, a spicy omelette made with pepper jack cheese and a mandarin chicken salad.

Healthier offerings include vegan dishes like falafel or salad with vegetables grown at local farms — and even sugary cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs, which are specially formulated with less sweetener and whole grains as the first ingredient.

Broward school lunch prices are $2, $2.35 and $2.50 for elementary, middle and high school students, respectively. In Palm Beach County, it’s $2.05 for elementary students and $2.30 for middle and high-schoolers. Breakfast is free in both counties and there is also a reduced-price program for eligible students.