Summer food show highlights school lunch trends

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DENVER -- School lunch options have come a long way.  That was apparent at the Colorado School Nutrition Association’s Annual Summer Food Show at the Colorado Convention Center.

Staff from more than 50 districts were able to check out options from 150 approved vendors.

One of the noticeable trends this year was meals that students can customize.  For example, there was an Asian food bar that allows the child to choose rice or noodles, then choose the kind of protein, vegetables and sauce they want. “It’s a huge food trend these days.  Kids love to customize their meals,” said Tracy Dean with Littleton Public Schools.

Buyers also noticed food truck inspired items, and plenty of grab-n-go items. The taco in a bag seemed to get some attention.  Kids can open up the bag of whole grain chips, and load in the meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.

All of the food must meet federal health standards. “Everything is now reduced sodium, much more whole grains, reduced fat,” said Jessica Gould, CSNA President-elect.

The trick is to make it healthy and tasty. “We are trying to balance that nutrition that’s required of us, and that we know is good for our kids, with things that they will actually eat,” said Jeremy West, CSNA President.

The group also wanted to remind families about the Summer Feeding program. Many school districts across the state offer free breakfast and lunch to children ages 1 to18.

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