Thursday, March 14, 2013


Fish tacos, mozzarella-crusted Pollock, Mandarin chicken rice bowl… These are just a few new menu items you might be able to find on your child’s school lunch menu in the near future.

The Idaho State Department of Education recently published Chef-Designed School Lunch, a new book of recipes specifically designed for Idaho schools by an Idaho chef with the help of state dietitians – and Idaho students.

“We are eager to share the Chef-Designed School Lunch publication with schools across Idaho because it provides new, nutritious recipes that we know Idaho students will enjoy,” said Dr. Colleen Fillmore, Director of Child Nutrition Programs at the Idaho State Department of Education.

Last year, the Department partnered with Liberty Charter School in Nampa to host “Chef Tuesdays,” where professional Chef Brenda Thompson worked with the local foodservice staff to serve new, more nutritious lunch recipes and taste-test each meal with actual students.

Based on their feedback, Chef Brenda crafted healthy recipes that received the thumbs up from students. These recipes now are available for every school in Idaho to replicate and serve in their cafeteria if they choose.

The state paid for Chef Tuesdays and the new publication as part of a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Programs.

The meals and recipes found in the Department’s new recipe book are designed to:
  • Utilize a wide variety of USDA foods that schools have on hand.
  • Meet the USDA’s more nutritious Meal Pattern standards for Grades K-8 and 9-12.
  • Appeal to students’ preferences and tastes while incorporating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Minimize food costs for Idaho schools by providing a two-week cycle menu that utilizes four to nine different USDA foods per meal.
In addition to this new recipe book, the state held a drawing to give three lucky school districts across the state the opportunity to spend the day with Chef Brenda. In April, she will visit the winning districts – Kamiah, McCall-Donnelly, and Preston – and work with the school kitchen staff to make some of these new chef-designed recipes.

To download the full book or to view more chef-inspired recipes that the Department posts each month, visit

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