Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Smiling girl with a school lunch tray


States are using Fiscal Year 2021 Team Nutrition Training Grants to develop new school meal recipes reflecting local foods and cultures. Check out some of the innovative methods states are using to engage students throughout the recipe development process.

Taste-Testing New Recipes
Curryfornia Bowl a Hit at Wonderful College Prep Academy
Curryfornia Bowl a Hit at Wonderful College Prep Academy

Middle school students at Wonderful College Prep Academy in Delano, California taste-tested a new Curryfornia Bowl recipe. The recipe combines three, plant-based Mediterranean-Indian fusion dishes into one and incorporates local ingredients including brown Basmati rice, butternut squash, olive oil, and quinoa. Students rated this recipe “I loved it,” “I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it.” Ninety-two percent of the students who sampled the recipe either liked or loved it. This recipe will be standardized and added to school lunch menus.

Romoland School District Teams Up with Local Farm
Chef Toby

Romoland School District’s (RSD) food service team in California visited Amy’s Farm where they sourced turnips, rutabagas, parsnips and carrots to prepare their Roasty Toasty Root Vegetable recipe. The food service team worked with the farm to see which root vegetables were in season and selected the vegetables for the recipe based on availability.

The recipe was taste-tested by students at Harvest Valley School and achieved an 88 percent approval rating. RSD’s Chef Toby also created a video demonstrating how to make the recipe for students and community members to show that it’s easy to enjoy roasted vegetables at home.


Georgia Adapts Taste-Testing Methods for High School Students
Citrus Ginger Salad

The Georgia Department of Education adapted their taste-testing process for a high school audience. Students at Creekview High School taste-tested a new recipe for Citrus Ginger Noodle Salad and submitted feedback for the recipe utilizing a QR code posted at the point of sale. Students were able to use their smartphones to complete the survey, which allowed for a contactless survey process and quick response times.

The recipe, which features Georgia-grown mustard greens, achieved an 86 percent student acceptability rating during the taste test and will be standardized for school meal menus.

Bellingham Culinary Arts Students Vital in Recipe Development
Bellingham Culinary Arts Students Vital in Recipe Development Food

The Bellingham Public School District in Washington is developing five new standardized recipes as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 Cohort A Team Nutrition Training Grant. They conducted a taste test with 60 Bellingham High School culinary arts students, who sampled beet hummus, chickpea masala, cauliflower alfredo, veggie queso fundido, and tortilla soup. Many of these recipes are plant-based and reflect cultural food preferences of the students.

Recipes were adjusted to improve their nutrient content and all five recipes achieved at least a 93 percent acceptability score after these revisions.

Pennsylvania North Hills School District Holds a Recipe Contest
Pennsylvania North Hills School District Holds a Recipe Contest 
North Hills School District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania hosted a “Chopped”-style recipe contest to help develop standardized recipes for school meals incorporating locally grown cabbage. Two classes of Family and Consumer Science students taste-tested the top four recipes and submitted their feedback through Google forms. The winning recipe was Chicken Chow Mein with cabbage, green onions and a soy/sesame sauce. The Family and Consumer Science students will use what they learned to assist in the next round of taste testing with elementary school students.
Local and Cultural Foods
Bison and Barley Soup
Montana student with bison taste test results

Montana’s Belgrade School District is teaching Story Creek Elementary School students about local bison as part of the Montana Harvest of the Month program. Students participated in a taste test of Montana Bison and Barley Soup and gave ratings of “Tried It,” “Liked It,” or “Loved It.” Almost 90 percent of students liked or loved the soup.


Purple Pirate Potatoes
Smiling girl with a school lunch tray

Students from the Philipsburg School District, in Montana, enjoyed a delicious “Taste of Montana” meal for school lunch, which included bison, barley, beets, apples, carrots, cabbage, onions, and potatoes. Students learned about these Montana foods and taste-tested a new recipe for Purple Pirate Potatoes (a delicious combination of roasted beets and sweet potatoes). The recipe had a 90 percent approval rating.


Soul Food
Two chefs presenting to a classroom

Chefs Weezy and Gwen Barnes of Lott and Big Weezy’s Kitchen, a restaurant in Michigan, presented on the history and preparation of soul food to the high school culinary students at Muskegon’s Career Tech Center. The chefs provided the students with a lunch including smokey rib tips, collard greens, yams, and catfish. They also walked the students through the preparation of each dish including the key ingredients, main spices, and cooking methods along with a brief history of soul food. The catfish was a student favorite! The students will be working with the chefs on the development of a standardized recipe for school lunch that highlights African American cuisine.

More Information

Standardized recipes developed by these Team Nutrition Training Grant grantees will be available later this year through the Institute of Child Nutrition’s Child Nutrition Recipe Box.

Share your school meal program menus and recipes with us at Your menus and recipes may be featured in future Team Nutrition publications and resources.

Page updated: November 15, 2023