KETCHIKAN (AP) — Of all the things to serve for lunch, the kids suggested seaweed.
Genevieve Hiatt and Hailey Hubble, fourth-graders at Houghtaling Elementary, won the November Dream Healthy Lunch Menu Contest, and come Dec. 19, the school lunch menu in Ketchikan School District will include salmon, brown rice, seaweed and a pineapple-strawberry fruit cup.
The contest was inspired by new U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations for school lunches. With the passing of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and the campaign against childhood obesity, school lunches have switched from pudding packs to fruit cups.
“With the new school lunch regulations, we had to change a lot of menu items,” said Emily Henry, the school district’s wellness coordinator.
Henry said the district’s food services department started the contest in November as a way to include students in the menu planning and design process.
“We thought the contest would be a good way to generate excitement and sort of have a say. … It’s a way for the kids to feel like they were involved,” she said.
In November, 24 Houghtaling fourth- through sixth-grade students submitted meal ideas and illustrated posters for the contest. Henry said the submissions were required to include a fruit, a vegetable, a carbohydrate and a source of protein and dairy.
“The kids seemed really excited about it,” Henry said. “We had a lot of really interesting ideas.”
One idea was venison tacos with nacho cheese topping, Henry said.
“That’s what we were looking for — is different ideas,” she said.
The posters were displayed in the hallways at Houghtaling, where students could vote on their favorite meals. After determining the nutritional integrity of the suggested menus, Henry and a team of judges, including food services director Madonna Brock and Kayhi culinary arts teacher Doug Edwards, decided on three finalists based on creativity and poster presentation. The finalist with the most student votes won.
At Houghtaling, fourth-graders Genevieve Hiatt and Hailey Hubble won first place. Fellow fourth-grader Lexi Vasquez won second, and sixth-grader Robert Cope-Powell won third place.
The winning meal will be served to the entire school district Dec. 19, and the students who won get a tour of the school district’s kitchen facilities at Schoenbar Middle School, where are school meals are prepared.
And the contest continues, Henry said. Fawn Mountain Elementary students are participating in the contest this month, and their winning meal will be served in January.