Amelia Q. and William S. from Underwood Elementary vote against apple French toast in a Nutrition Council meeting

November 26, 2022

Every year, students from each Lee’s Summit R-7 School District elementary school are selected to take part in the Nutrition Council, a student feedback group that helps the Nutrition Services team make menu choices. Students get a sampler of new foods at each monthly meeting, time to share their opinions, and then an opportunity to vote – for or against adding the item to the menu rotation for all LSR7 students.

A salad bar at Hazel Grove Elementary

Many of the students’ favorite food items were added to the menus thanks to the Nutrition Council, including potstickers, mini cinnamon rolls and – as of a vote in the October meeting – oatmeal cookies, which will be served in schools spring 2023.

School food is selected to meet strict government nutrition requirements, but also to taste good and look appealing.

“The kids eat with their eyes,” says Director of Nutrition Services Lori Danella. “It may take me three days working on menus before I know I meet all the requirements and everything looks good together.”

Emily Schaeffer picks carrots at a Cultivate KC greenhouse. Cultivate KC is an urban farm part of the farm collective KC Food Hub

The Nutrition Services team is always thinking about how a meal is going to look on the tray in the lunchroom, in addition to the nutritious value. One of the ways LSR7 continues to provide students with fresh, appetizing and balanced meals while supporting local businesses is a partnership with KC Food Hub, a collective of local farms that sells fresh food.

This year, KC Food Hub has supplied LSR7 with lettuce, sweet potatoes, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, melons, pumpkins, honey and so much more. This fresh produce contributes to the district’s salad bars and provides six to eight fruit and vegetable offerings per day.

“Our students are able to enjoy fresh produce from local farmers within fifty miles of our district,” Mrs. Danella says. “We are the first district in the metro area that formed a partnership with KC Food Hub. Not only is this great for our students, it helps our community farmers.”