Proving school lunches can be filling and flavorful

September 29, 2012 12:27:08 AM PDT
Much has been said and sung about the new federal school lunch guidelines.

One Fresno school and restaurant owner has partnered up to prove that school meals can be filling and flavorful.

If this YouTube parody is to be believed, students are literally falling down from hunger -- unable to play sports or concentrate in school because they aren't getting enough food.

So why are the 160 or so students and staff at ACEL Charter School in Downtown Fresno singing a different tune?

"I love organic food, so I absolutely adored the food," Andii Lo. "It was delicious."

They're pouring on the praise for a new kind of school lunch. An experiment by Principal Stephen Morris, who saw an opportunity for change.

"They were saying we're hungry and some kids were ordering pizza after they had lunch here. And it's like ok this is defeating the whole purpose," Stephen Morris said. "We can create something new and different to help students achieve and be healthy."

He invited Chef Tara Hamilton of organic Fresno, challenging her to be creative and cost effective. She had to double the portions for fruits and vegetables. Cut down on proteins and use whole grains.

"But I think the challenge is making sure it tastes good," Hamilton said. "You can't just hand them a pack of carrots or steamed green beans when they're not used to it."

So Tara expertly hides organic veggies like squash, eggplant, and bell peppers into chili.

Hamilton explained, "You add a little ground beef and black beans to that, the kids aren't even gonna know there are any veggies in there."

The best part, the kids are eating it up, filling their stomachs, instead of the garbage.

"I was actually full," Jasmine Sandoval said. "I didn't wanna eat more. But it was really good."

The food experiment has been such a success that the school's board is considering offering Organic Fresno a school lunch contract.

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