When lunchtime rolls around at some Chicago-area schools this year, students in the cafeteria line might be served a panini or antibiotic-free chicken or a black-bean burger. And in at least one district, the salad bar will include a combination of cucumbers and jicama.
The menus presented to today's students look different than the ones their parents — and, in some cases, their older siblings — ordered from in school years gone by.
That's because of an increasing emphasis on healthier eating. Many school districts in recent years have banned or cut back on fried foods, foods high in fats and sugars, and soda pop in favor of items like whole wheat breads, assortments of fresh fruits and vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy.
The trend will continue this school year as schools prepare to meet stricter dietary standards approved in January by the United States Agriculture Department that will impact millions of students nationwide who partake in government-funded school meal plans.