Try something new in school cafeteria

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The menu items sound delicious: sweet potato cinnamon rolls, egg fritata with a bacon slice, meat lovers pizza and calzone.

New restaurant in town? Nope. They are all new to the menu for Wilson County Schools students.

Starting the week of Sept. 11, students in kindergarten through 12th grade will have a few new items to choose from in the cafeteria.

“We just changed up a few things,” said Cindy Bailey, director of child nutrition. For instance, rotisserie chicken will now replace baked chicken, and spaghetti will be served with meatballs.

Before rolling out the new items, students did a little taste-testing during the last school year.

The new Salisbury steak and meatloaf were very popular when they were sampled, Bailey said. The kids liked the whole grain sweet potato cinnamon roll as well.

“We were surprised, too,” she said. “They are good.”

Some of the menu items are only for students in middle school and high school, such as breakfast fruit smoothies, calzone, meat lovers pizza, sriracha boneless chicken wings and meatball spud. The meatball spud is meatballs and gravy served with mashed potatoes.

Bailey is sure students will especially like the new fruit pearls. “The kids will be excited because it looks like Dippin’ Dots,” she said, but it’s really fruit.

And juice rush, a soft frozen fruit treat, will also be offered once a week, and she predicts it will also be popular.

Students will still have a choice of two entrees for lunch, Bailey said, and the meals will cycle from week to week. They will still be offered their favorite menu items, which include corn dog nuggets, pizza and, for the older kids, spicy chicken fillet sandwiches.

Bailey said one of the biggest challenges of her job is getting foods that taste good and still meet nutritional requirements.

“That’s been a tough one, but it’s getting better,” she said, as food manufacturers work with them.

Although many menu items come vacuum packed (including meatloaf and mac and cheese), cafeteria cooks will still be making their famous vegetable soup in season, Bailey said, as well as spaghetti and beefaroni.

Bailey said she tries to eat in the lunchrooms as often as she can and likes the chicken fillet sandwich and corn dog nuggets best.

Students eat lunch and breakfast free in elementary school as well as at Darden and Daniels. For others, the cost remains the same this year: $1.25 for breakfast and $2.60 for lunch.

Bailey said around 4,000 students are served breakfast each day and 8,000 eat lunch.