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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Student Nutrition Cooking Up New Foods for Fall

Sturner prepared the chicken spaghetti in the test kitchen.
While students are out for the summer break, Mansfield ISD Student Nutrition Services is heating up their oven making sure everyone comes back to some new tasty, yet nutritious, meals.

Foods like chicken spaghetti, grilled chicken pesto subs, chicken and waffle paninis, hash brown casseroles, Asian chicken and rice bowls, and grilled stuffed burritos will be making their debut for certain grade levels in the fall.

Chef Isabella Sturner is charged with making new recipes for MISD schools. She said the process to get different foods on the menu is a collaborative one.

“I work closely with Denise Hayslip (MISD’s dietician) to make sure each recipe is compliant with USDA regulations,” said the district’s culinary trainer. “We try to keep our meals delicious, fresh and relevant—food that the students will actually eat.”

And MISD students have a say in what foods make the cut. When all the food guidelines are met, students taste them and provide their feedback.

“We recently had a taste testing for students at Summit High School. They really enjoyed the shrimp fajitas and jalapeno cornbread,” Sturner continued.

Sturner said the upcoming year’s meals will have a southern home flare to it, and nothing says homestyle better than making the food from scratch.

Fresher food, like this strawberry salsa, is the goal.
“The lasagna, zucchini bread, taco meat, fried rice, lo mein, ranch, spaghetti sauce—all of that is homemade. We have a good blend of scratch cooking, which is impressive since we have to serve 300 to 500 people within a 10-minute window,” she explained.

The nutrition workers try to accommodate all types of eaters, including vegetarians. That’s why they’re hosting a vegetarian item sample session on July 17 at 11 a.m. Anyone interested can go to the Student Nutrition office on 1151 Mansfield-Webb Road in Arlington.

With an average of more than 20,000 people being served each school day, the department certainly has its hands—and cafeterias—full, but workers said they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My favorite part about food is the amount of enjoyment others get. We’re serving good food that’s real food,” Sturner added.

MISD Student Nutrition Services distributed more than 5 million meals last year. For more information about menus and pricing, visit the department website.