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Students get menu input

February 15, 1999|By JASON MYERS

Sharon Walker, an area manager of food services for Washington County, sat down with three local public school students on Feb. 4. Her mission was menus.

Every two months, Walker meets with students throughout the county to determine which foods will be served on which days.

Students are selected for the sessions by individual school principals. Walker sends the principals letters prior to each session.

Corey McCarney, 10, a Maugansville Elementary School student, said tacos are his favorite school meal.

Tacos have grown in popularity among student meals in Washington County although, according to Walker, there was a time when they "couldn't give away tacos."

Walker is pleased that kids like tacos and that they are able to serve them in school. She noted a trend throughout the nation has schools sending contracts for food services to outside businesses.

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She says that while it may be exciting initially to have McDonald's or Taco Bell in school, eventually "the prices of lunches skyrocket. Then the kids can't afford to eat, so they don't eat," Walker said

Fortunately for Walker and the other planners, students are happy with the items being served now, the students said.

"We're trying to serve different kinds of food," Walker said. Included in the new wave of cafeteria cuisine - an Italian sausage sub, pork sausage, pork breaded in cornmeal and a brunch lunch which features Belgian waffle sticks and sausage sandwiches.

Joan Crum, cafeteria manager at Western Heights Middle School - which serves five other area schools as well - noted that it is important to maintain the traditional, popular items.

"We're trying to please the kids," said Crum, who is in her 25th year of food service.

She may one day be joined by Margaret Stone, a 9-year-old Winter Street Elementary student. Margaret was the most enthusiastic of the students involved in planning, shooting her arm up in the air and fervently making suggestions.

Margaret's favorite lunch is a fish sandwich, and she was delighted to be able to plan an entire meal for herself. She'll be celebrating her birthday in May, and on that day, the schools will serve fish sandwiches, potato rounds and other foods of her choosing.

While Corey and Jamie Carbaugh, an eighth-grader at Western Heights, were slightly more soft-spoken, they offered suggestions, which Walker happily implemented.

"It's an important job," Walker said of having to provide more than 8,000 lunches daily - in addition to a la carte items, which she says are at least as popular as the complete meals.

"It's quite an art to keep the quality up throughout the schools," she said, noting that much food is prepared in a central location - Western Heights is one - and then transported to those schools which do not have sufficient - or any - kitchens.

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