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Healthier version of pizza to return to Wichita school menus

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at 1:55 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, at 5:32 a.m.

Good news, pizza-loving Wichita students:

Delivery pizza – one of the most popular lunch entrees at Wichita middle and high schools before it was dropped last year – will return to school cafeterias as a once-a-week option this fall, district officials said.

Because of new food guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Wichita school district dropped delivery pizza as a meal option last school year. Officials said local pizza companies could not provide the proper nutrition documentation required by the federal government.

This fall, Pizza Hut or Domino’s pizzas with crusts rich in whole grains will be delivered every Monday to Wichita high schools and every Wednesday to middle schools.

Students “will be very happy to see the return of delivery pizza,” said Vicki Hoffman, director of nutrition services for the Wichita school district.

The return of the ubiquitous cardboard boxes is one of several changes coming to school lunch lines.

Wichita elementary schools this fall will switch to self-serve lunches, giving students more choices about what goes on their trays. Officials say the change should reduce food waste.

Students will get a choice of three entrees – two hot and one cold – two fruits and two vegetables. Each student will be required to take three to five items, and at least one item must be a fruit or vegetable.

Lunch lines in elementary schools could take longer at first, Hoffman said, as youngsters learn to navigate the self-serve lines. Students will be shown an instructional video that takes them through the process. The video is posted on the district’s website at www.nutrition.usd259.org.

Wichita schools also will offer several new menu items, including more vegetarian options.

“We believe there are more students who are choosing a vegetarian diet,” Hoffman said. During school visits and at the annual Choices Fair last year, officials heard frequent requests for more vegetarian entrees, she said.

Wichita school lunch rooms offer at least one vegetarian option per day, Hoffman said, including a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A yogurt, cheese and crackers plate is one of several new menu items at elementary schools this fall; middle and high schools will sometimes offer hummus with pita bread and vegetables.

At elementary schools, other new menu items include a sliced turkey sandwich, chicken alfredo, breaded chicken sandwich, teriyaki chicken on brown rice, fish sticks, ham on a biscuit and garlic cheese bread.

New items at middle and high schools include a deli sandwich, General Tso chicken, soft chicken taco, barbecue turkey and a yogurt, string cheese and pretzel plate.

Members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council (SuperSAC) met in January to sample several menu items. The high school students liked the General Tso chicken best, Hoffman said.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.

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