21 Aug 2014
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Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs

Students are testing out food served at high schools next year.

Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs Washburn Students Serving As District Guinea Pigs

Move over, Chairman Kaga. There's a new judge in town.

Or rather, judges.

Every Thursday for the last several weeks, hundreds of students have filed down to the cafeteria for what they've reportedly begun dubbing "Real Food Thursday." They're there to test out different recipes Minneapolis will be rolling out at every high school next year, along with revamped kitchens that will let schools cook most of their own meals on-site.

"We did a test about a month ago on a homemade pizza," Minneapolis Public Schools nutrition head Bertrand Webber told Patch. "We served it with a Caesar salad, and the kids absolutely fell in love with it."

With urging from principal Carol Markham-Cousins, Webber turned that one-time test into a regular affair. The next test, Webber said, was an Italian-themed lunch, with spaghetti, two kinds of sauce, and roasted squash with herbs. As at every experimental meal, students were able to serve themselves the vegetable; Webber and his chefs wanted to see if students would even take vegetables. Instead, they ran out.

In fact, the tests have been so popular with students that Washburn has stopped serving the traditional lunch options on Thursdays, and doubled the amount of experimental food available.

That trend has continued. When Patch dropped by Washburn on Thursday, the nearly 700 students who showed up for lunch were served roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans with garlic butter, and salad with balsamic vinagarette. Plates left the serving area half- to three-quarters full of beans and salad.

"Nobody's telling these kids to do this," chef Larry Jones marveled as he watched students cycle through the lunch line. "Look. That's probably a cup and a half (of salad) she just put on her plate."

Wandering around the seating area while students chowed down, it turned out that while students were big fans of the idea of salad, they had hoped to see a creamier dressing like ranch, Caesar, or Italian. The chicken and potatoes got many thumbs up, though.

Of course, that's only what they said when the cook came around. If you're a Washburn student or a Washburn parent, what do you think about the test menus?

Jones took the criticism in stride, aggregating the information for future menu planning. After his rounds, Jones pulled up a big blue trash[can for what he called "the real test"—what students threw away. By his test, the chicken and salad were evidently quite popular, with hardly a shred of lettuce or spinach visible.

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