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Keeping School Lunches Out Of The Trash

March 26, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Keeping School Lunches Out Of The Trash

Kids can be picky eaters, both at the dinner table and the lunchroom table. In fact, the USDA figures about 12 percent of the calories served in school lunch go uneaten.

But one school in Sioux Falls is tracking what foods kids will eat, to make sure they wind up in their stomachs instead of the trash.

O'Gorman Junior High School seventh grader Jarrett Mescher definitely has a list of his favorite school foods. Homestyle chili isn't exactly on his top ten, though.

"Like spaghetti and lasagna; not a lot of people eat that.  But the rest of them a lot of people eat," Mescher said.

"Eating a good meal helps them with their testing and staying focused during class," Carrie Keuser, the Director of Food Services for Sioux Falls Catholic Schools, said.

What may surprise you is that the homemade meals, such as chili, are actually less popular than pre-packaged ones, such as chicken nuggets.

"We definitely see them still throwing things away, whole trays and items," Keuser said.

The staff at O'Gorman Junior High keeps track of that and also gets input directly from the students.

"After about the third time, if it stays low, we'll remove it. There's always a new recipe or product to try," Keuser said.

Some students and staff also get to taste-test those new recipes.  A salad bar was also added this year to help students pick and chose what they want.

"Some kids definitely fill their plate with the fruits and vegetables; others, you see won't take any," Keuser said.

Mescher isn't one of those eaters. In fact, he says food from the salad bar never goes from his tray to the trash.

"A lot of people are eating it, and they're healthy," Mescher said.

USDA studies also show that girls throw away more food than boys. Younger kids also tend to waste more food.

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