- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Feedback from students in the Clark County School District is helping improve lunches so that kids will actually eat them.

The district wants to know how meals will be received before thousands of lunches end up in school trash cans, the Las Vegas Sun reported (http://bit.ly/1QGd8UN).

Fewer students have been eating school lunches since federal nutrition guidelines were updated to make lunches healthier.

“It’s only nutrition if it’s consumed,” said district dietitian Lory Hayon. “We want to know before we put it in schools whether or not it’ll be well received and whether we need to do any adjustments.”

Carlos Morales started directing the Food Services Department last year, and says it’s possible to make the meals appetizing without running afoul of the new health guidelines.

“It’s very doable,” he said.

Where previously staff members did not taste the food, now it’s a requirement.

“We’ve really been changing the quality of our food,” said district dietitian Christina Saheb. “We want to make sure everything looks appealing and is just healthier.”

One example was a shepherd’s pie that students said was bland.

“It was ideal from the inception, but we put it out and we weren’t getting as many positive reviews,” Morales said.

The district replaced water used to mix the mashed potatoes with nonfat milk.

“We also implemented a different whipping technique that one of our ladies in the central kitchen does,” Saheb said. “It’s just so much creamier.”

The district kitchen produces a million meals each week.

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com

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