GLIDDEN, Iowa (WHO) — In general, school lunch tends to not be thought of as fine dining. However, a new chef at Glidden Ralston School District in Iowa is changing that by providing special meals for students.
Chef Chad Chaney, the new school chef at Glidden-Ralston Community School District, organizes and cooks for the students.
“I do all the food service prep and ordering and just kind of make sure everything runs smooth. I have two great teammates that help out with that. Mostly I write the menu,” Chaney said.
Chef Chad said he still likes to provide the comforting foods that kids love, but also wants to expand their palate.
“Staple things that kids like Crispitos, hot dogs, today [it was] chicken sandwiches, and then we like to do something slightly off the wall and healthy like the bacon wrapped quail,” he said. “Next week we’re going to do venison stew. The week after that we’re doing salmon and feta burgers, so just kind trying to expand the kids’ palates and get them to try some fun healthy stuff.”
Before being a school chef, Chaney worked in restaurants. He said he likes cooking for the same group of people every day.
“Being in a restaurant you don’t get that. So you see the same kids every day and get their honest feedback, it’s awesome,” he said.
Students said they were appreciative of Chaney’s cooking.
“He’s transformed it, he’s changed the way we look at food is what I can say,” said one Glidden-Ralston student.
A recent study found that improvement in the nutritional makeup of school lunches over the past 12 years may be having an impact on childhood obesity.
In 2010, a federal law championed by Michelle Obama required more fruits, vegetables and grains in school lunches. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics last month looked at 14,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 18, and found there has been a decline in body mass index.
A new proposal by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack aims to improve school nutrition even further by limiting added sugar and sodium. If adopted, the plan would kick in during the 2025-2026 school year, the Associated Press reports.
The proposal would limit added sugars to 10% of the week’s total calories for breakfast and lunch, and aims to cut sodium intake by 30% by 2029.