OKC Public Schools hope new task force brings more children to the cafeteria

OKLAHOMA CITY – A nutritious meal can do a lot to get the brain and body geared up for the day.

With Oklahoma City Public Schools starting back up next week, a nutrition task force is looking at ways to make sure your kids are eating right to excel in the classroom.

“We want to find out why they aren’t choosing the food that we have right now,” said Deborah Taylor, Asst. Director of Nutrition Services for OKC Public Schools.

A child nutrition task force formed earlier this year will look at doing just that.

“They had assessed everything. They had visited other schools and they just decided, ‘hey we can probably do this on our own,’” Taylor said.

There are challenges to feeding 44,000 kids twice a day; one of those is making sure the food tastes good while meeting USDA guidelines, but the district believes hiring two registered dietitians will help.

“If you were in my office, I’d ask you what you already like to eat and how you already cook and we would change those recipes, and we would take the foods you like already and learn how to make them more healthy,” Taylor said.

The August lunch menu includes whole grain chicken nuggets, skim chocolate milk and apricots, using the ‘My Tray’ dietary guidelines.

Taylor worked in Shawnee schools for the past 22 years and has seen huge success with getting students to want to eat in the cafeteria.

“It works great,” she said.

“At a middle school, we have 87 percent of our kids eat at Shawnee Middle School. That’s what we want to see here at OKC Public Schools.”

OKC schools see only 30 to 40 percent of students heading to the cafeteria lines for breakfast and lunch.

“Why are they choosing not to eat our school food?” Taylor inquired.   “We’re going to find out. We want kids eating with us. That’s the whole point. If kids aren’t eating with us it doesn’t matter how healthy it is.”

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