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Nutrition Services gets feedback from students on school menus

Nutrition Services gets feedback from students on school lunch menu

Nutrition Services focus group at L'Ouverture Magnet Elementary School. Students at six Wichita Public Schools elementary schools have been participating in focus groups to help the district’s Nutrition Services department find out what foods students like and what foods should be taken off the menu.

This is the second year focus groups have been held. Last year an electronic survey was offered to secondary students so they could offer their feedback.

“We want students to enjoy our breakfast so they have the energy to get through the morning and to eat lunch so they can get through the afternoon so we can help them dream, believe and achieve,” said Nutrition Services assistant director Grace Liss.

The focus groups consist of several small groups of four or five students working with a member of the Nutrition Services team who ask students to rank their favorite breakfast and lunch menu items as well as their favorite fruit juice.

This year the Nutrition Services team is using the focus groups to help isolate foods that are being served that students don’t really like.

“We’re also trying to find out what types of food they’re eating at home so we can offer them at school,” said Liss. “We’re trying to get ideas from them about what we could add to the menu.”

Based on last year’s feedback, popcorn shrimp was added to the menu.

“Last year’s focus groups told us that they wanted us to add lobster, shrimp and steak to the menu,” said Liss. “Lobster and steak aren’t in our budget, but we were able to add popcorn shrimp to the menu and also re-added cheeseburgers due to their feedback.”

Fifth-grader Amaya Bates participated in a focus group at Cleaveland Traditional Magnet Elementary School.

“I told them that some of the breakfasts and lunches could be improved, but that most of them are pretty good,” said Bates.

The process of planning next year’s menu typically begins in late November. Once the focus groups have concluded in late January, the Nutrition Services department will begin sampling food for next year’s menu and even offer students the opportunity to taste proposed menu items. The menu is usually finalized by the end of March. 

Click here to watch a video news story of the focus group held at Cleaveland Traditional Magnet Elementary School.