Duval Students Tasked With Picking New Lunch Options

Dec 30, 2016

Duval County Public School students could have new lunch offerings as soon as February. The district is making sure students have a say in what gets added to the menu.

Ten-year-old La’Marcus George was taste testing potential lunch options at the Prime Osborn Convention center during a field trip this month.

He had just taken a bite of a honey Sriracha chicken sample speared with a toothpick.

“It was spicy,” he said. “It had different kinds of flavors in it.”

He was one of hundreds of Duval students tasting new dishes and filling out surveys telling the district's food-service provider, Chartwells, what they’d like to see on their lunch trays next year.

La'Marcus recommended the chicken, though he said he was looking for some water before he finished the sample.

Chartwells Director of Culinary Operations Will Ratley said La’Marcus is right on trend.

“We’re finding a huge uptick in the popularity for Asian cuisine and spicy products, like spicy chicken items; buffalo is coming back around really strong,” he said.

Ratley said it’s his job to think outside of the box to give kids healthy and tasty meals.

“We’re trying to really drive their palates and grow their potential for eating more healthy foods,” he said.

Students had the opportunity to try a fresh beet salad and a grilled cheese with apples.

R.V. Daniels Elementary fifth-grader Akilah Prier said she would have never thought to pair cheese with apples.

“It just doesn’t sound like a great combination but when you actually try it, it’s delicious,” she said.

And she hopes to see the sandwich as a lunch option when she returns from holiday break.

“I’m like praying,” she said.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride